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CBS is getting an injection of capital as well as potential new viewers for its Stephen King summer series Under the Dome.
The network has struck a content licensing deal with Amazon.com, which will grant Amazon Prime members unlimited access to the serialized drama four days after the network broadcast. The deal will also allow for Dome, which will be produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and CBS TV Studios, to be purchased and downloaded exclusively on Amazon Instant Video. The news comes a week after Amazon inked an agreement to become the exclusive online subscription home for PBS’ Downton Abbey, and offers CBS another revenue source for an ambitious series set to air during a less lucrative time of year for broadcast networks.
in its bid to attract summertime viewers and attention lost to cable in recent years, Dome, which is based on King’s best-selling novel of the same name, is set to premiere on June 24 and run through the otherwise reality heavy summer months on CBS. The drama, which has already cast such actors as Secret Circle‘s Britt Robertson, CSI: NY’s Natalie Martinez and True Blood’s Aisha Hinds, centers on a small New England town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. The King novel landed at the top of the best-seller list when it was first published by CBS sibling Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint in 2009.
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Last November, CBS ordered 13 episodes of the series under an innovative financing structure where the network would seek a subscription video-on-demand partner. The arrangement made it possible to execute a high-end scripted drama during those summer months at lower license fees. On Monday, CBS announced that Amazon — rather than Netflix or Hulu — would be its partner on this series, and company executives are saying the fit makes sense.
“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. 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,” said CBS Corp’s chief corporate content licensing officer Scott Koondel of a series that will count Neal Baer (A Gifted Man, Law & Order: SVU), King, Dreamworks’ Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stacey Snider and comic scribe Brian K. Vaughan as executive producers.
For Amazon’s part, the move expands a Prime Instant Video library that now features more than 36,000 movies and TV episodes, including those of Fringe and The West Wing. The Netflix rival is also pushing into originals, having recently greenlighted six original comedies. Noted Brad Beale, director of digital video content acquisition for Amazon: “Adding a current season major network TV series like Under the Dome to the Prime Instant Video library so shortly after its live airing enables us to increase our exclusive selection of great TV shows and give customers access how, when and where they want to watch it.”
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