Streaming is big business these days, and the more there is to stream, the more options and outlets you have to choose from. This past summer CBS and Amazon Prime entered into a mutually beneficially deal which saw the ubiquitous online retailer win the exclusive streaming rights to the hit adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Under the Dome. The two entities hope that the proverbial lightning strikes twice, as they have inked a similar deal, this time to stream CBS’ Extant, starring Halle Berry and produced by Steven Spielberg. Each episode will appear on Prime four days after it first airs.
It makes sense for Extant to be part of a big deal like this. After all, the property was the subject of a big time bidding war between most major networks and cable channels. When you have a name like Spielberg and his Amblin Television attached to anything, you’re guaranteed a significant level of public interest. And landing a star the caliber of Berry in the lead role certainly doesn’t do anything to diminish that enthusiasm. That is, of course, the biggest part of why CBS paid dearly for the show, and gave it a straight-to-series 13-episode order.
In Extant, Berry will play an astronaut who returns to Earth after spending a year on her own on an extended solo mission. When she finally arrives back home, she finds that readjusting is more difficult that she thought it would be. She has a husband waiting for her, as well as an android “son, ” but it is tough. It’s hard not to get an A.I. vibe from that last part. Whatever she experienced out there on her own, will apparently alter the course of human history forever, and there is a mystery that we’ll get to watch unfold.
This is a little different fare for CBS. When you think of “America’s Most Watched Network,” you usually think of hour-long dramas, Chuck Lorre-produced sitcoms, and another NCIS spin off or two. Under the Dome showed a willingness to do something different, and the Josh Holloway-starring Intelligence which recently premiered, keeps this foray into sci-fi going. Granted, a show produced by Spielberg and starring Berry doesn’t seem like that much of a risk when you really think about it, but they get points from us for going genre.
The Under the Dome partnership between the network and Amazon was a win-win situation. CBS got some help covering the high cost of producing a big-budget show—especially one that aired during the summer, which is usually a wasteland of low-rated shows they want to get out of the way and reruns. Amazon on the other hand, saw season one of Dome become the most-watched single season in the history of their streaming service. Like I said, everyone made out like bandits, and this arrangement was a significant score in the ongoing game between the likes of Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and probably more that I haven’t even heard of yet.