Apr 23 2014, 9:29am CDT | by Forbes
A memo to everyone grubbing HBO GO passwords from friends, family and even co-workers: if you have an Amazon Prime membership, starting May 21 you’ll no longer have to piggyback on someone else’s HBO subscription. The two companies have inked a deal that will bring classic HBO titles like The Wire and The Sopranos and, eventually, back-seasons of current HBO favorites like Girls and Veep exclusively to Amazon Prime customers.
Amazon and HBO announced Wednesday morning that they have entered into a multi-year content licensing agreement that will make Amazon Prime Instant Video the online-only subscription home for HBO scripted shows like Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, The Wire, and many more. The two companies said that previous seasons of current HBO titles — like Girls, The Newsroom and Veep — will become available over the course of the multi-year agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO. The cable network said that the programming will remain available on all HBO platforms.
In addition to the HBO content becoming available to Amazon Prime subscribers, HBO has also agreed to make HBO GO available on Fire TV (a device that plugs into your TV and allows you to stream online content), and is aiming to launch that feature by the end of the year.
“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,” Brad Beale, Amazon’s director of content acquisition, said in a statement Wednesday morning. “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.”
Amazon Prime, of course, increased its price from $79 per year to $99 per year earlier in the spring. The acquisition of so many HBO titles likely makes this price hike seem less like a pain and even more like a steal. Depending on the cable provider, an HBO subscription starts around $15 per month.
For its part, HBO said it is excited to partner with Amazon and believes “the exposure will create new HBO subscribers,” said Charles Schreger, HBO’s president of programming sales. Added Glenn Whitehead, executive vice president of business and legal affairs, who along with Schreger helped negotiate the deal, “As owners of our original programming, we have always sought to capitalize on that investment. Given our longstanding relationship with Amazon, we couldn’t think of a better partner to entrust with this valuable collection.”
Starting May 21, HBO and Amazon said that Amazon Prime members will have unlimited streaming access to all series of old shows like The Sopranos that are no longer on the air, miniseries like Angels in America, Band of Brothers and John Adams, “select” seasons of current series like Boardwalk Empire, original movies like Game Change and even comedy specials from comedians like Louis CK, Bill Maher and Ellen Degeneres. The companies reiterated that early seasons of shows like Girls won’t be available until later in the life of the deal. Fan-favorite Game of T
Neither company specified the exact number of years this “multi-year deal” encompasses, nor did they disclose the value of the deal.
Following the announcement, shares of online streaming competitor Netflix immediately took a downward turn, opening $10 lower than Tuesday’s close and trading for a 3.2% decline in early Wednesday trading action. Amazon, meanwhile, opened $4 higher than Tuesday’s close but then took a slight dip in early Wednesday action; shares are currently down 0.75%. Year-to-date, Netflix is the winner of the two, posting a 2.8% return for 2014 trading thus far against Amazon’s 17.3% year-to-date decline.
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