(Reuters) - "Desperate Housewives" alum Eva Longoria's new project won't bring her back to ABC, or any traditional U.S. television network. The actress will produce and lend her voice to "Mother Up!," a 13-episode adult animated comedy available in the U.S. this fall only on the online video site Hulu.
Longoria, Kevin Spacey, John Goodman and other top Hollywood actors are being wooed by the growing number of Silicon Valley companies rushing to get a foothold in consumers' living rooms with exclusive shows that feature big names and hefty budgets.
As video streaming technology makes watching videos on laptops and mobile devices as easy as flicking on a TV set, Amazon.com Inc
Their models are pay TV channels like HBO and Showtime that built their subscriber rolls by creating shows like HBO's "Sopranos" or Showtime's "Homeland" that a TV viewer couldn't get anywhere else.
"Content creators think they've hit the lottery," said Bernard Gershon, head of digital consultancy Gershon Media and a former Walt Disney Co
With 33 million global subscribers to its streaming service, Netflix
Upcoming only-on-Netflix series include the revival of one-time Fox comedy "Arrested Development" starring Will Arnett, and murder mystery "Hemlock Grove," directed by horror movie producer Eli Roth.
On Tuesday, the Los Gatos, California-based company announced the December release of its first original children's series, a show based on DreamWorks Animation's
The companies have different business models -- Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft have subscription services, YouTube sells advertising, while Intel Corp
But they all sense an opening as consumers increasingly chafe at their mounting cable and satellite TV bills. A small, but increasing, number are starting to "cut the cord," or drop their service, say analysts.
"We may be sowing the seeds of our own destruction," Charlie Ergen, chairman of satellite operator Dish Network Corp
Netflix has won fans in Hollywood by giving writers and directors a "high level of autonomy as well as an increasingly global distribution platform," Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt said in a note to clients.
"There is plenty of room for multiple producers and licensors of original content," Devitt added.
Amazon.com's Prime subscription, which combines a video streaming service with free shipping for products it sells online, stepped up its Hollywood dealmaking in the last month with pacts to be the exclusive online home for popular PBS drama "Downton Abbey" and upcoming CBS show "Under the Dome," a series based on a Stephen King novel.
The Seattle-based company, seen by some analysts as Netflix's biggest threat, said last month it plans to air 11 original pilot episodes before deciding which to produce as ongoing series.
One of the pilots, "Alpha House," follows four senators who live together in a rented house. "Roseanne" and "Argo" actor John Goodman will star, according to a person close to the situation.
Overall, Amazon Studios has 48 movie and TV shows in development, an Amazon spokeswoman said.
Hulu, owned by media giants Disney, News Corp
Upcoming Hulu programs include Longoria's "Mother Up!" about a former music executive navigating life as a suburban mom.
Microsoft, which offers services such as Netflix on its XBox video game console, intends to produce its own content later this year for its 40 million subscribers, said Nancy Tellem, a former CBS entertainment president who joined Microsoft last year to run its fledging Hollywood production studio.
"We're not as constrained as other content creators," Tellem said at the AllThingsD conference. "We can produce something that's 10 minutes or an hour."
The XBox's benefit, Tellem said, is its interactivity. To generate added revenue, the service can sell tickets to concerts by stars of its comedies, or copies of the clothes worn by stars on red carpet events.
Deep-pocketed Apple Inc
Sources say Apple, which already sells a $99 set top box called Apple TV that streams Netflix and other content, has opened discussions with providers, though its progress with the cozy club of Hollywood producers and distributors is unknown.
Chip maker Intel
The Silicon Valley newcomers may be taking aim at siphoning off cable subscribers, but executives at Time Warner's
"Hulu and Amazon will be just another 200 hours on top of the 145,000 hours that are already available to the consumer," said HBO president Eric Kessler. "What matters is that our content is exclusive. If you want 'Game of Thrones,' there is only one place you can get it."
(Reporting By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Alistair Barr in San Francisco; Editing by M.D. Golan)