Sorry, Netflix and Hulu: Amazon gets exclusive streaming rights to Downton Abbey


Right now, cord-cutting Downton Abbey fans have several options for streaming previous of the show: Netflix (s NFLX), Hulu Plus and Amazon (s AMZN), as well as PBS’s own website for current-season episodes. Later this year, though, options will be much more limited: Amazon said Friday that by the end of 2013, Prime Instant Video will be the exclusive paid streaming service to allow access to the show.

Users of other services should watch the show while they can. Netflix only has Season 1, which a source familiar with the deal says it will lose on July 1, while Hulu Plus has Seasons 1 and 2.

A press release lays out the timing:

Beginning June 18, 2013, Prime Instant Video will be the exclusive subscription service for streaming the all-new Season 3 of Downton Abbey, and later this year, no digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any seasons of Downton Abbey. Prime Instant Video will continue to be the exclusive subscription home through Season 4 and, if produced, Season 5 of Downton Abbey.

It’s easy to see why Amazon wants this deal. Downton Abbey is “the most popular TV series with Prime Instant Video customers, ever,” the company said.

Fans should still be able to watch new episodes on and will continue to be able to buy individual episodes and seasons from iTunes (s AAPL) and Amazon (s AMZN).


Robin W.

I agree with the post from Nathan Roberts. I’ve already stretched my meager budget by including TWO non-essential entertainment items: Netflix and Hulu+. I do not like feeling mugged into buying another service, just because some crafty corporate suit was savvy enough to get one-up on the competition. In the end, my family and I lose quality shows to watch like “Downton Abbey”, and all of the media outlets lose our business. I am old enough to remember when watching TV was free and young enough to appreciate the gratification of being able to immediately watch an entire season of a series you’ve come to appreciate. But I am truly saddened by this development, I will NOT be subscribing to any other services, and I intend to drop the ones we already have. We have already dropped cable and we will just stick to buying the quality entertainment we want from the video supplier.


Actually, there aren’t any options right now for Season 3 that are free. It’s not available on PBS.

Greg Bishop

PBS website currently shows that each of the first season 3 episodes expire on 3/3/13. Are they gone forever from PBS site?

Nathan Roberts

I think this is a stupid move as they will severely limiting there viewing potential. I already have Netflix and Hulu+ and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay another service to watch one show. PBS you are only hurting yourself.


Thank you Laura— your article is the only one I could find that clarified how this would affect iTunes.


I wonder if the fact Downton Abbey is aired without commercials removes some of the value for the OTT video suppliers. The advantage of Netflix and Amazon Prime is being able to watch what you want to watch when you want to watch it without commercial interruption. Since their are no commercials on PBS anyone with a DVR can recreate the streaming experience. Just a hunch, but Netflix has all the viewing data on all the shows on its system. If hours viewed of Season one of Downton Abbey had warranted a bigger license fee for the succeeding seasons, I suspect they would have paid it.


Amazon exclusives don’t make me more likely to buy something from Amazon. They do make me more likely to either download something illegally or simply not watch at all. That’s the problem with exclusives IMO – if a customers absolutely hates the store with the exclusive, so much that they won’t spend ANY money there, then there goes a sale.

Andy Powers

I’m ecstatic to see Amazon continuing to take strides towards dominating the streaming content business! Healthy competition for Netflix and Hulu+ means better quality products for everyone!

Dom's Guide

Irony, of course, is that Netflix has Downton Abbey season 3 on its UK service even before it has aired on PBS. And a lot of Netflix members have watched it. Confronted with a $79 upfront charge or doing a little cybertraveling, which is the path of least resistance? Yeah, probably iTunes for a season pass.

Scott Ryan

I would not subscribe to Amazon for a one off like this, despite it being a great series that I DID watch in entirety at NFLX (Season 1).

This doesn’t surprise me because it is PBS. I would expect nothing less than ill advised deal from public broadcasting.

Companies that snub Netflic do so to their own detriment as they will limit their own audeince.


I see Amazon is after Netflx for a long time. But still it did not stop Netflix from growing. So, I would say don’t worry about this article.


Keeping up with all these services, each with their own different offerings, limitations and user interfaces has become rather frustrating. I am seriously thinking of going beyond cord cutting and giving up TV altogether :/

Aaron Berlin

“Exclusive subscription home” seems to be the key bit. Sounds like you’ll still be able to buy episodes. So if you’re content to be a year or two behind, I guess Amazon will be the only way to go, but if you want to stay current, you should still have plenty of options.


Actually, I just watched FULL and commercial free episodes 1-6 of season 3 on Just go to the PBS website, click “watch online” and enjoy.


The episodes “expired” on the PBS website before I saw the final episode of Season 3. :(
Any suggestions…anyone…?

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