Continuing its rapid-fire addition of new content deals, Amazon announced today that it has signed an agreement with CBS which will bring the forthcoming summer TV series “Under the Dome,” based on a best-selling Stephen King novel, to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video. This deal is unusual because it allows Amazon Prime members to stream all the series’ episodes four days after their initial broadcast, instead of 24 hours afterwards, as was previously speculated.
That makes the new agreement for “Under the Dome” notable – it’s a hint that CBS is at least willing to experiment with streaming an ongoing, broadcast series, even if it’s not offering day after viewing.
“With this innovative agreement, we’re giving fans more options to watch and stay current with this serialized series, and doing so in a way that protects the Television Network’s C3 advertising window,” Scott Koondel, Chief Corporate Content Licensing Officer at CBS, explained in a statement.
The statement indicates that CBS is hesitant to embrace any service that could impact its TV audience viewership metrics.
However, as Hollywood Reporter notes, CBS had ordered 13 episodes of the series in November, under an innovative financing structure which had the network seeking a video-on-demand partner from the start. The arrangement made it financially feasible to produce a high-end, scripted show at lower license fees, the report explains.
The show, produced by CBS and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, tells the story of a small New England town that is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. The network premiere takes place on June 24, 2013. It will then be free for Amazon Prime subscribers four days after airing, and can be streamed on users’ iOS devices, Kindle Fire HD, game consoles, and elsewhere.
The move comes shortly after another major win for Amazon, which will also soon become the exclusive online subscription home for PBS hit Downtown Abbey, which will begin offering streams of Season 3 on June 18, 2013.
Also of note, CBS signed a deal with Hulu in November after years of remaining the broadcast holdout on the service. But in its initial stages, that deal is very basic. It doesn’t include current, popular shows like “Big Bang Theory,” for example, but instead brings content from the network’s back catalog like Star Trek, I Love Lucy, and The Twilight Zone. There are now more than 2,600 episodes of CBS shows available on Hulu, but the only currently broadcast show was “Entertainment Tonight.“
CBS and Amazon first signed a content agreement back in summer 2011, which saw 18 CBS shows offered to Amazon’s Prime network.
It’s interesting that Amazon won the rights to the new series, instead of Hulu, where the deal could have served to expand CBS’s Hulu user base, or Netflix, whose bread-and-butter still includes content sourced from networks and studios. But according to Koondel, Amazon’s unique user base is what sealed the deal, as Amazon users may have also been readers of the King novel.
“Amazon has the distinct combination of having a terrific video service with a huge fan base among their customers for Stephen King’s book, making them the perfect partner for this summer programming event,” he said.