Starting today, the first three seasons of The Good Wife are available for viewing on Amazon Prime. Season four, currently airing on CBS, will be made available on the site later this year.
CBS announced yesterday that the show will be available exclusively on Amazon through September 2013, at which point it will also become available to subscribers of Hulu Plus. It won't be until January 2014 that reruns of the show will start airing on television — the Hallmark Channel, specifically.
This tiered, online-first rerun deal is the first of its kind. In the past, the typical home for reruns of a procedural court drama like The Good Wife would have been basic cable networks such as USA or TNT. According to a source familiar with the terms of the deal, Amazon paid a significant premium for the exclusive rights to broadcast reruns of the show. The website of late has displayed a strong desire to gain exclusive early rights to shows as it attempts to establish itself alongside Netflix, HBO and others as a top-tier source for streaming content.
In a press release yesterday announcing the deal, Scott Koondel, chief content licensing officer for CBS, said "addictive serialized dramas like this perform very well" on streaming sites like Amazon and Hulu Plus.
That's one way of saying the formats of those sites lend themselves to binge-watching.
A character-driven, arc-ed show like The Good Wife would hold less interest to the USAs and TNTs of the world, which are drawn to more procedural fare like NCIS and The Mentalist. What's interesting about this Amazon Prime/Good Wife sale is that it draws an increasing distinction between the content providers that see themselves as wanting to service the binge-viewing customer versus the linear channels that need to account for occasional viewers.