Amazon’s original series “Transparent” will be renewed for a second season, set to air in 2015, the company announced Thursday. While Amazon doesn't disclose its viewership data, the announcement did cite the show’s “binge factor” -- the addictiveness that entices viewers to devour multiple episodes in one sitting -- which it said was “higher than any of the other Prime Instant Video binge leaders in the past.”
Since the show’s debut on Sept. 26, Amazon claims, nearly 80 percent of all viewers binge-watched two or more episodes of the series in the same day. Created by Jill Soloway ("United States of Tara," "Six Feet Under"), the 10-episode series follows a Los Angeles family whose father (played by Jeffrey Tambor) reveals to his three adult children that he is transgender.
“We are absolutely thrilled that the response to 'Transparent' has been so positive,” Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said in a statement, referring to both critics' and users' reviews. “Our goal is to create series that customers love, so it’s great to hear that 'Transparent' has not only risen to the No. 1 series on Prime Instant Video, but that it’s deemed ‘binge-worthy’ as well.”
“Transparent” is one of five new original series Amazon has introduced in recent months. All are made available to Amazon Prime subscribers, a $99 annual membership that allows consumers to receive free two-day shipping on certain products and unlimited access to its TV and movie library. While Netflix remains a major player in the streaming business, “Transparent” might give “Orange Is the New Black” stiff competition.
“Amazon is certainly getting traction in the market — especially when compared against Hulu Plus,” Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates, said in a statement in May. "Amazon's growth shows how dynamic the OTT [over-the-top content] space truly is. Over-the-top content refers to media distributed by a third party to a user usually over the Internet and without the use of a cable or satellite network. “While Netflix remains the dominant player, consumers are still open to alternatives with interesting content and business models."
While Amazon does not release viewership numbers, Ben Schachter at Macquarie estimated the service has at least 20 million users, which would put it in second place after Netflix, with more than 35 million subscribers. A Parks Associates survey in May showed that 20 percent of U.S. household subscribe to Amazon Prime Video, and the service has surpassed other streaming services, including Hulu Plus.
And critics agree, citing the show’s approach to gender, sexuality and identity.
“As much as I like ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ I love ‘Transparent’ so much more,” writes Megan O’Keefe from Decider. “’Transparent’ challenges me, shocks me, awes me, and makes me happy to be alive.”
“Transparent” might challenge other binge-worthy shows like AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead.”
“What Walter White did for Bryan Cranston, Maura Pfefferman should do for Tambor,” Robert Bianco from USA Today writes. “And what ‘Breaking Bad’ did for AMC, ‘Transparent’ … may just do for Amazon.”
In the meantime until season 2 of “Transparent” premieres next year, Amazon will be roll out comedy “Mozart in the Jungle” and dramas “Bosch” and “The After.” The company has also decided to greenlight the pilot “Red Oaks,” produced by Steven Soderbergh, and has ordered more scripts of Whit Stillman’s “The Cosmopolitans.”