Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has secured an exclusive deal with HBO to offer older seasons of HBO programming through its Prime Instant Video streaming service. Prime Instant Video will soon offer the entirety of popular HBO series like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under as well as episodes of new series, including Veep and Girls but not Game of Thrones, three years after they air. While some might question whether this older programming is really all that valuable, HBO has created so many hugely critically acclaimed series that binge watchers who currently don’t have access to shows like The Sopranos will be on cloud nine once they get the complete HBO series Amazon will start serving up on May 21.
This is a crucial deal for Amazon, which wants its streaming service to better compete with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Netflix doesn’t have the rights to any HBO programming, which means it’s missing out on a ton of popular shows that Amazon now has. Premium cable channels like HBO, Starz, and Showtime have been reluctant to license their shows to on-demand services as they still want people to sign up for premium cable subscriptions in order to get their content. But traditional cable is an aging model, and more people are turning to much less expensive streaming services to get their TV fix.
HBO has its own streaming service called HBO Go, which will be launched on Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box as a part of the deal. This is the first time that HBO has licensed its programming to an outside online streaming service.
“HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking, beloved and award-winning shows in television history, with more than 115 Emmys amongst the assortment of shows coming to Prime members next month,” said Brad Beale, Director of Content Acquisition for Amazon in the companies’ press release. “HBO original content is some of the most-popular across Amazon Instant Video — our customers love watching these shows. Now Prime members can enjoy a collection of great HBO shows on an unlimited basis, at no additional cost to their Prime membership.”
Business Insider pointed out that Netflix has done a great job creating its own addicting original shows like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, and so streamers may decide that it’s worth it to have both an Amazon Prime membership and a Netflix membership, meaning the Amazon-HBO deal is not necessarily a blow to Netflix. Still, it certainly doesn’t help Netflix to have a more able competitor in the market. While Netflix has been highly successful at what it does, all that popular HBO programming will likely convince more people to sign on to Prime, and if they must choose between the two services at some point for financial or other reasons, the HBO shows are a pretty appealing thing for Amazon to have working in its favor in addition to free two-day shipping from the online retailer that sells everything.
Amazon is also working on creating its own high-quality original television series, filming pilots and then asking viewers to rate them, determining which shows will be made and which will fall by the wayside.
Terms of the deal weren’t revealed, but given its exclusivity it’s likely that Amazon was willing to pay more for an exclusive deal with HBO than the network would have gotten from cutting a deal with Netflix in addition to Amazon Prime. Amazon is trying to improve its TV streaming service after hiking the annual fee for a Prime membership from $79 to $99. Snagging such coveted programming from HBO in addition to the plethora of original series it has in development is certainly a good way to seduce more people into signing up for Prime.
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