Why The HBO Deal Is A Big Win for Amazon

Amazon and HBO struck a deal that will make older HBO shows available for Amazon Prime users. An HBO Go app is also coming to Fire TV.
Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 23, 2014

Amazon and HBO just struck a deal that brings HBO programming to Amazon Prime Instant Video exclusively. But before you ask, no, this doesn't include "Game of Thrones."

Try "The Wire," "Six Feet Under" and "The Sopranos" instead. The deal brings Prime users every season of these shows, along with other past HBO series.

This is a big win for Amazon. It's the first time HBO has given an online streaming service access to its programming.

Amazon's director of content acquisition said: "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."

For its part, HBO says more eyes on its content will drive subscription numbers. Also, an HBO executive says simply, "As owners of our original programming, we have always sought to capitalize on that investment." (Via Amazon)

Though the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, the catalog of offerings has been.

Aside from the classics, Prime customers will have access to miniseries, like "Band of Brothers," original HBO documentaries and films, like "Game Change," comedy specials and older seasons of current shows.

Shows like "Girls," "The Newsroom" and "Veep" will appear on the service three years after they air on HBO. Again, "Game of Thrones" was not mentioned.

The New York Times reports both "Sex and the City" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" are "subject to other licensing deals." So they won't be available for Prime streamers.

All programming will still be available to HBO subscribers via HBO Go.

And yes, despite initial concerns, the companies say an HBO Go app will be coming to Amazon's Fire TV later this year.

But what about the big red elephant in the room? Netflix is winning the streaming war, but this alliance has to scare them, right?

In 2011, Fast Company reported Netflix spent $100 million to license "House of Cards," outbidding HBO.

But at a conference soon after, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said "he'd much prefer to spend that money on series from Showtime and HBO--but they won't take Netflix's checks."

Maybe it's "Cards," "Arrested Development" and "Orange is the New Black"'s collective success, but the company's chief content officer spoke in a different tone in February 2013. (Via Netflix)

He told GQ, "The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

HBO's programming will start streaming to Amazon Prime users May 21. The service's price just jumped $20 to $99 per year.