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Amazon ponies up for second CBS summer show, 'Extant'

Amazon and CBS are replicating their "Under the Dome" partnership for another TV series from Steven Spielberg, this time a space thriller starring Halle Berry called "Extant."

Halle Berry, here at Comic-Con International 2013, will star in a summer drama developed by CBS in a special licensing deal with Amazon.
Getty Images

Amazon is doubling down on its partnerships with CBS, investing in another series -- as it did for "Under the Dome" -- that will stream for its Prime subscribers only a few days after network broadcasts this summer.

The new program, "Extant," is a mystery thriller about an astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. It stars Halle Berry and is produced by Steven Spielberg.

"Her experiences lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history," said the companies.

So, small stakes then.

"Extant" will premiere on CBS in June, and Amazon Prime Instant Video will be the only online subscription service with the show's episodes, which will be available four days after their initial broadcast.

It's the exact model of "Under the Dome," a sci-fi drama based on a Stephen King novel that CBS and Amazon joined forces to create last summer. Amazon, which is notoriously protective of its data, said Wednesday that "Under the Dome" was the most-watched TV season on Prime Instant Video in the last year. The series also averaged more than 15 million viewers on CBS, making it the most-watched scripted summer series in two decades.

At the time, the agreement between CBS (the parent company of CNET) and Amazon for "Under the Dome" was one of a kind. CBS was able to make the show with unusually high standards for a summer program -- big special effects, expensive sets, a large cast -- thanks to Amazon's licensing investment and further sales of rights for international markets. The deals essentially paid for "Under the Dome" before it ever aired.

Amazon invested in the show up front in exchange for exclusive rights to stream it through its Prime Instant Video service much sooner than subscription video-on-demand services typically get access to current television programs.

The companies haven't specified how much Amazon paid for "Under the Dome," but CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves last month hinted that the e-commerce retailer paid $700,000 an episode.

Terms of the "Extant" deal weren't disclosed.

Amazon and CBS also renewed their agreement for the second season of "Under the Dome" earlier this year, largely under the same terms. They expanded the model too: Amazon's Lovefilm secured a license to be the only subscription-based service in the UK allowed to stream the serial drama.