Last summer, Amazon marked a first when it won in-season rights to the Stephen King novel adaptation “Under the Dome.” Turns out, the partnership with CBS was hugely successful—for both Amazon and CBS. So, naturally, the two have decided to replicate the formula with another series: “Extant.”
“Extant,” starring Halle Berry with Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, tells the story of an astronaut attempting to reconnect with her family after spending a year in space. Not dramatic enough for you? How’s this line for you: “Her experiences lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.” Bam! Insta-drama! (But really, I’m having a little freak-out in my head over the feminist victory inherent in this premise. Thank you, Gravity!)
The show premiers in June, and like “Under the Dome,” Amazon Prime subscribers will get access to episodes four days after they air. Amazon will be the only subscription video-on-demand service with rights to the show (so you won’t see it on Netflix). Of course, Amazon is also the only subscription video-on-demand service that gives viewers the option of offline viewing, so they can essentially download a show or movie to watch on a plane or some other place where they don’t have Internet access.
Why is CBS taking such a big risk? Won’t it lose money in the long run? As it turns out, no. “Under the Dome” was a huge success, averaging 15.1 million viewers to become the most watched scripted summer series in 21 years across all networks. Amazon states that “Under the Dome” was the most popular show on Prime Instant Video in 2013, so that’s saying something.
“We received very positive feedback from Prime members about this summer’s exclusive access to ‘Under the Dome,’” said Amazon’s Director of Content Acquisition for Digital Video, Brad Beale, in a statement. “Customers loved being able to watch the show just days after it aired as well as catching up on previous episodes. We are thrilled to offer Prime members this access for ‘Extant,’ another exciting new show from CBS.”
Typically, the subscription TV and movie services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu get the cable networks’ leftovers—the episodes from last season that only have so much rerun value left in them. But it’s hard to sell the case for Internet TV when all of your content is at least a year old. Naturally, that’s why Netflix pushed so hard for original programming, staking a rumored $100 million on two full seasons of “House of Cards” before a pilot was even produced.
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