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Amazon keeps 'Under the Dome' under its umbrella

Its Prime Instant Video service again will exclusively stream episodes of the CBS summer sci-fi hit just four days after they air during its second season, as it did for the first.

CBS's "Under the Top" has been the top primetime show on broadcast TV.

CBS and Amazon.com are keeping their mutual admiration society going for another season of "Under the Dome," the serial drama that the broadcaster was able to produce at unusually high production values for a summer program thanks to lucrative licensing to Amazon and international markets.

That "Under the Dome" was returning was already known. That Amazon will continue with the same kind of licensing deal -- one that gives it exclusive domain for the online streaming of the episodes only four days after they air -- is new.

But it's no shock, given how much CBS (parent company of CNET) has touted Amazon's role in "Under the Dome" for making it as successful as it has been.

Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, has extolled how the Amazon licensing deal partnership along with international rights made "Under the Dome" a profitable enterprise before it even aired. At a Bank of America conference Wednesday in California, he said Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos approached him at a high-profile confab at Sun Valley, Idaho, to tell him how happy and excited Amazon was about their collaboration.

"'Under the Dome' was a great success well beyond what we even imagined," Moonves said Wednesday at the conference.

"Under the Dome," which is based on Stephen King's popular novel of the same name, has been a runaway hit this summer, a period that television programming typically populates with reruns and reality shows rather than expensive scripted dramas. It's the highest rated drama in the summer since 1991, Moonves has said, and the premiere episode was watched by almost 20 million people, not including the viewership through Amazon. Amazon hasn't disclosed how many people watch "Under the Dome" on its Prime Instant Video service, which costs $79 a year, but it has said that the first episode was most-watched TV premiere on its service ever and was watched by more customers than any other series on Prime Instant Video.