Français : Woody Allen au festival de Cannes.

Woody Allen – Cannes Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If 2014 was the year that Amazon found its feet with original programming, 2015 promises to be the year it gets its running shoes on.

The increasingly diversified ecommerce giant revealed this week that it has signed up Woody Allen for an exclusive television series, one which will be his first foray into the format, despite a fabled career making movies.

Following hot on the heels of Golden Globes success for Amazon’s series ‘Transparent,’ – admittedly alongside even bigger success for Netflix – there’s a great deal of anticipation around the emerging digital entertainment space. HBO announced late last year that it will offer its titles away from cable for the first time, indicating the ongoing power shift that’s occurring beneath the feet of broadcasters and studios.

With similar price points and service offerings for most video on-demand (VOD) platforms, content selection remains one of the distinguishing factors when viewers are selecting a service.

That means offering exclusive content that’s only available on one platform, which in turn means licensing it (and paying a premium for the privilege) from existing content creators, or commissioning. Although the money involved in producing quality content and buying the best talent is steep, the lack of licensing restrictions or expiration, coupled with the competitive advantage of being the only one to offer it, is clearly a compelling route for companies like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu to pursue.

The latest originals announcement is also evidence of another trend synonymous with digital content: the merging of television and film.

Previously the two enjoyed fairly distinct roles in the world of entertainment, in terms of both length and business model. Digital has been blurring the lines for years now, with long form TV productions squeezed into shorter seasons, as movies embrace shorts and begin to spread across trilogies that link several films together. There has always been an ebb and flow to the creative balance between television and movies, but digital trends like binge-viewing a TV show and same-day movie release at cinemas and online outlets has forced studios to experiment with how they present their programming.

Bringing a famed movie-maker like Allen on board for a first TV series is another move towards the confluence of these two most American creative pursuits. And when you can persuade a 79-year old New Yorker to change the habits of a lifetime, you know you’re on to something big!