| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 1 Amazon.com Inc
said on Friday that it struck an exclusive deal to distribute
seasons of the hit TV show "Downton Abbey" to members of its
subscription-based video streaming service.
Beginning June 18, Amazon's Prime Instant Video service will
be the exclusive subscription service for streaming Season 3 of
"Downton Abbey," as part of a new content licensing agreement
with PBS Distribution, a unit of The Public Broadcasting
The online retailer said that later this year, no digital
subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer
any seasons of "Downton Abbey."
The phenomenally successful British period drama, now in its
third season, has become both a critical success and a cult
favorite among its many U.S. fans.
Written by Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes, the
series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and
their servants at an impressive country estate in the early
Prime Instant Video will continue to be the exclusive
subscription home through Season 4 and, if produced, Season 5 of
the show, the company added.
The deal is the latest effort by Amazon, the world's largest
Internet retailer, to expand in digital content and take on
Netflix Inc, the leading online video subscription
service in the United States.
Amazon is spending heavily on licensing deals for movies and
TV shows to attract more viewers to Prime Instant Video. The
service is offered free to subscribers of Amazon Prime, the
company's broader online shopping subscription program, which
costs $79 a year for two-day shipping in the United States.
Netflix and rival Hulu Plus, owned by Comcast Corp
, News Corp and Walt Disney Co,
currently offer some seasons of "Downton Abbey."
As of July 1, no "Downton Abbey" seasons will be available
on Netflix, according to a person familiar with the agreement
between Amazon and PBS.
By obtaining exclusive rights later this year to stream
"Downton Abbey" on Prime Instant Video, Amazon is hoping more
people will sign up for its broader Prime service. When that
happens, shoppers often spend more on Amazon.com, analysts say.
Amazon's choice of "Downton Abbey" was likely driven by an
analysis of buying behavior by existing customers, a strength of
The company noted that Seasons 1 and 2 of the series are the
most-watched TV seasons of all time on the Prime Instant Video
"Our Prime customers have spoken," Brad Beale, director of
digital video content acquisition for Amazon, said in a
statement. "The series is consistently in our top most watched
TV shows each week."