Managers of Amazon's Prime video service just got their hands on the critically acclaimed "West Wing" as well as other shows from Warner Bros. Television.
Amazon said today that the licensing deal with Warner also includes such shows as "Dark Blue," "Fringe," Alcatraz," and "The Whole Truth."
An Amazon spokeswoman said that it will offer "West Wing" and "Fringe" exclusively to Prime customers through the summer, and that later they will be available for viewing to non Prime members on Amazon Instant video.
These shows, which have never appeared legally online before, according to Amazon, are also only exclusively available at Amazon only through the summer, according to an Amazon representative. She said that after the summer is over, the shows will remain at Amazon but they could also show up at rival services.
That seems to be an unusually short licensing arrangement for an exclusive. We'll try to find out what that means and update later.
The contest in the Web video category is all about obtaining content. Amazon is trying to make up ground against the Web's No. 1 video-rental service, Netflix.
Amazon Prime is a membership program that costs $79 annually and offers customers free two-day shipping on their purchases. In addition, members get access to the expanding pool of movies in Prime Instant Video.
The "West Wing" was easily the most successful of the shows Amazon is getting from the deal. Actors Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe starred in the the show, which ran from 1999 to 2006. The show won a host of Emmy awards.
Update, 8:30 a.m. PT: An Amazon spokeswoman just confirmed that the exclusive arrangement for Warner's TV shows last only through the summer. They will continued to be offered at Amazon but it is also possible that the shows could appear at other services.