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Who Wins the Original Content War?

Stocks in this article: NFLX AMZN YHOO MSFT

Last week, just before Amazon announced its new Fire TV set-top box, it also proudly boasted it greenlighted six new original shows for Prime Instant Video and announced that Alpha House, its first foray into original episodic programming starring John Goodman, would return for a second season.

It's also appealing to studios, directors and actors. House of Cards' central character is played by Kevin Spacey, while Amazon's Alpha House stars John Goodman. "They're willing to do it because it's a shorter time commitment that allows them to work on other projects. [If you have] an A-list director or cast behind it, they're not going to put up something that's not going to be good," Adgate said.

"One of the reasons that [House of Cards] ended up going to Netflix in the first place is because the story they wanted to tell did not fit a formula that suited [TV], where you have a pilot," says Adam Mosam, CEO and founder of Pivotshare, a platform that helps small media publishers monetize their online content by creating an online marketplace for the sale and purchase of said content. "They wanted to tell their story. It's more like a 13-hour long movie. In that case it comes down to creative freedom -- that's what Netflix is offering." Pivotshare clients include Jillian Michaels, Kirk Cameron and Jeremy Irons.

Companies are bringing in big time executives to cull and expand their original offerings. Microsoft hired CBS executive Nancy Tellem in 2012 to head up its Xbox Entertainment Studios. Microsoft has recently greenlighted six original series for its new Xbox television, specifically "shows that can be combined with the interactive components to encourage users to engage across consoles, phones and tablets" according to a BloombergBusinessWeek article on Monday.

Last week Hulu announced Craig Erwich was joining the Web-based television company as a senior vice president and head of content. Erwich, who began his new job on Monday, was most recently the EVP of Warner Horizon Television, the unit of Warner Bros. (owned by Time Warner), that produces scripted cable and reality television series. There, Erwich oversaw development, production and business operations for the past seven years, which included the creation of hit series including Pretty Little Liars, The Voice, The Bachelorette, House, Prison Break and 24.

"Craig is ready to hit the ground running and lead us as we increase our overall content offerings, and continue to invest in original first-run TV programming, last night's TV, and great library TV from the U.S. and other markets," Hulu's CEO Mike Hopkins said in a blog post about the hire. "Craig is the perfect guy for the job - he has been developing shows and programming networks for over 20 years."

Hulu is about to launch its latest original series, Deadbeat, on April 9 as well as the second season of The Awesomes this summer. With Erwich coming on board, you can be sure that adding more original content will be a key strategy for Hulu.

So does this mean we could see Apple (AAPL) getting into original content?

The company keeps adding channels to its Apple TV set-top box. While it's not in Apple's direct wheelhouse, "the more expertise they gain in things like music and movies the more they are in a position to fund things themselves," eMarketer's Verna says, such as allotting development money for an incubator specifically for studio production. "I would think it's a natural evolution of where Apple has been."

Will consumers be in the cross hairs or the winners as the media industry is recreated?

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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