The online retail giant announced today that it secured a licensing agreement to exclusively stream season 3 of the award-winning series that airs on PBS in the U.S., starting on June 18. The agreement also covers season 4 and, if it's produced, season 5.
"The series is consistently in our top most watched TV shows each week, making it the most popular TV series with Prime Instant Video customers, ever," Brad Beale, Amazon's director of digital video content acquisition, said in a press release. Amazon Prime currently streams seasons 1 and 2, but you can watch season 3 right now -- even the episodes that haven't aired in the U.S. yet -- if you buy Amazon's TV Pass for $9.45.
This is a huge blow to Amazon's Web-streaming rivals Netflix and Hulu, both of which currently have "Downton Abbey" in their libraries. To stay competitive, all three companies have been vying for popular content, and increasingly, original and exclusive content.
Amazon started its own studio and announced a new slew of original programming just yesterday. Netflix outbid AMC and HBO to host the much talked about "House of Cards" series, which premiered today, and Hulu starting streaming a bunch of original and exclusive programing last year.
Update, 12:26 p.m. PT: Updated with TV Pass information.