Amazon and Netflix continue to elevate their battle for subscription streaming video supremacy. Just a day after Netflix premiered its original show House of Cards, Amazon has announced that it has struck a deal with PBS to exclusively carry the US subscription streaming rights to the incredibly popular show Downton Abbey. Season three will be released exclusively on Prime Instant Video on June 18th, and while seasons one and two are currently available on other services, later this year they'll only be found on Prime Instant Video. Season four — and season five, if produced — will also be exclusive as part of the agreement. The show will still be available on DVD and from non-subscription services like iTunes.
According to a source close to the deal, Netflix, which currently streams the first season of Downton Abbey, will lose its rights to the series on July 1. After that time, Prime Instant Video will have exclusive subscription streaming rights in the US for the entire run of Downton Abbey.
Both Amazon and Netflix have continually worked to secure exclusive streaming rights for TV shows and movies, but the two companies have also invested in producing their own original content. In addition to House of Cards, Netflix is working on a new season of Arrested Development and it released its first original series, Lilyhammer, last year. Amazon is lagging a bit behind, but it is developing a number of new shows and movies, including Zombieland, which stars Woody Harrelson. The battle for exclusives isn't limited to Amazon and Netflix, however: Hulu Plus is the exclusive streaming home to the Criterion Collection of iconic films. With the battle raging across services, it's becoming clear that consumers will be forced to subscribe to multiple streaming services if they want access to every hit show and movie.
Tim Carmody contributed to this report.