Ruh roh. Last month word spread that Netflix’s contract with the BBC was about to end, resulting in the streaming service losing Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, and tons of other noteworthy shows. That story was one of the biggest ones we’ve run in a long time when it came to reader response, proving you folks take your streaming TV seriously. Well, Netflix thankfully renewed its contract and kept Who after all, but now there’s bad news for you Amazon Prime customers out there. Doctor Who and much of Prime Instant Video’s British television programming is about to go the way of the dodo, and it looks a lot less likely that there will be a last-minute reprieve this time around.
As with Netflix before it, Amazon’s contract with the BBC is about to lapse. However, The Verge reports that Amazon is a lot less likely to renew that deal for one simple reason: exclusivity. See, the contract that granted Amazon streaming rights to Doctor Who and other British shows wasn’t exclusive, so both Netflix and Amazon had Who in their catalog. Amazon have already made exclusive content a big part of their focus, both with Amazon Originals such as Transparent and with other series they have the sole U.S. streaming rights to, such as Justified, Orphan Black, and Hannibal. So if it’s a choice between sharing Who with Netflix or not having it at all, apparently Amazon prefers the second option. That might piss off Who fans who don’t also have Netflix, but focusing on exclusivity is a strategy that’s already helped Amazon’s Prime service gain a 53% increase in 2014, so don’t expect Amazon to back down from that approach anytime soon.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, Prime fans may be losing Who from their queue, but it’s not like Amazon was the only way to see the adventures of the Time Lord, and if it’s a choice between Amazon keeping its British fare that’s already aired elsewhere or continuing to develop top-notch original content like Transparent and The Man in the High Castle, I’ll gladly err on the side of exciting new Amazon Originals.
If you’re an Amazon Prime customer who’s currently in the middle of marathoning through Doctor Who, you’ve still got a bit of time yet. Doctor Who and other BBC content will be pulled from the Prime catalog on Sunday, February 15. After that, it’s either DVDs, digital purchases, or Netflix.