Original series, new content drop at Amazon, Netflix as competitors rush to catch up

The online content race is continuing to heat up, as Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) debuted the first of its planned kids' series, Tumble Leaf, on Prime Instant Video. The e-commerce giant also made available the first batch of HBO series, including The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and others, through its exclusive deal with the programmer.

Meantime, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is on track to premiere the second season of Ricky Gervais' original series Derek on May 30, and the second season of its hit series Orange Is The New Black next Friday, June 6.

Tumble Leaf is targeted toward pre-school aged children; the first six episodes are now available to Prime members. And two more childrens' series are on tap for this summer. On June 27, Creative Galaxy debuts, offering an "interactive art adventure" for preschoolers; while on July 25, Annedroids, a live-action adventure series for kids aged 4 to 7, will premiere.

Amazon's slowly increasing cache of original content has a way to go to catch up to Netflix, but its series debut signals the provider is serious about offering content that will draw viewers to its fold and away from other online video competitors.

Both are bringing more original series to bear. Netflix is filming the highly anticipated Marco Polo as well as an as-yet-unnamed Spanish-language sports comedy.  And Amazon, which launched Alpha House and Betas last year, recently announced six more original series geared toward adults. Release dates aren't yet available.

And other online video competitors are hoping to close the gap with their own original content. Hulu recently hired Jenny Wall away from Netflix, clearly hoping her marketing experience will boost its planned original content. The provider has also brought aboard executives with experience in key areas--such as Warner Horizon TV veteran Craig Erwich and former Disney distribution exec Tim Connolly. It also plans to triple its spending on original content.

Yahoo and AOL have both announced original series as well.

For more:
- see this Amazon release
- and this Netflix release

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