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Amazon Steals Downton Abbey From Netflix
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2013) - Amazon yesterday stole some of the thunder from Netflix's launch of its original show, House of Cards, by announcing that it had plucked away the streaming rights to the British period drama, Downton Abbey.

The etailer says Amazon Prime Instant Video subscribers can now watch seasons one and two of the award-winning series. And beginning June 18, 2013, Amazon Prime will be the exclusive streaming home of Downton Abbey's third season, which is now airing on PBS.

Later this year, Amazon said, no other "digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any seasons of Downton Abbey." That includes the current season three, season four and, if produced, season five.

Netflix still has season one of Downton Abbey in its streaming library, but it will be forced to drop it later this year due to the new Amazon deal.

Amazon says it now has more than 36,000 movies and TV show episodes on Amazon Prime, which is still far fewer than Netflix. But the theft of a popular show like Downton Abbey indicates that Amazon is serious about upping its challenge to Netflix in the streaming category.

The Wall Street Journal writes that the premiere episode of Downton Abbey's third season recently drew nearly eight million viewers, which is four times the average rating for a PBS primetime show.

Amazon Prime customers must pay $79 a year to subscribe; the subscription also includes free two-day shipping and some other perks. Netflix charges $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming.

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