With an enviable roster of exclusive content, many expected HBO to one day enter the fray and take on Netflix and Amazon Prime with a standalone version of HBO Go, but in a surprising move, the pay cabler decided to instead align with Amazon.
As part of this deal, HBO will license episodes of older shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, and The Wire (yes, Omar comin... to Amazon Prime) and some episodes from current shows like Boardwalk Empire and True Blood starting on May 21st. There will also be HBO exclusive comedy specials, original movies, mini-series, and documentaries, but there are some notable omissions.
HBO is holding Game of Thrones - currently their most popular and buzz generating show - out of this deal right now while eventually adding seasons of Veep, Girls, and The Newsroom to the Amazon Prime service. According to Re/Code, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sex and the City, and Entourage were not included in the deal because their streaming rights are complicated by their respective syndication deals. The HBO/Amazon Prime relationship will also see HBO Go become available on Amazon's new Fire streaming device.
So, why not go it alone? According to previous reports, HBO's resistance to a stand-alone service can be tied to concerns that such a move might encourage more cord cutters while upsetting the lucrative relationships that they have with cable companies and satellite service providers; companies that may already feel under siege thanks to the Aero service and efforts to allow À la carte pricing.
Teaming up with Amazon (who has really only dipped a toe in the original programming pond) over Netflix (who competes with HBO for top talent and critical acclaim) makes sense in that Amazon already sells many single episodes of these shows. The deal also somewhat diminishes a rival while also generating revenue from content that probably isn't driving new subscribers to HBO (hence the Game of Thrones hold back and the slow roll out of other new shows).
As for consumers, this also represents a win. If you have HBO Go, none of the above mentioned shows will leave that service, and if you are already a cord cutter and you already have Amazon Prime, this at least means that you'll get more content without having to add another service and another subscription fee to the list.
Keep an eye on Screen Rant for more news on HBO Go, Netflix, Amazon, and the rest.
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