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Amazon Prime Makes Exclusive Multi-Year Deal to Stream HBO Classic Series

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 23, 2014 at 1:10PM

Amazon and Netflix are in an intense race for premium content. Now Amazon.com Inc. has nabbed HBO. People have speculated about when and how HBO would make its wealth of programming available to consumers on a wider basis separate from its bundled arrangement with the cable companies.
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'The Sopranos'
'The Sopranos'

Amazon and Netflix are in an intense race for premium content. Now Amazon.com Inc. has nabbed HBO. 

Treme

People have speculated about when and how HBO would make its wealth of programming available to consumers on a wider basis separate from its bundled arrangement with the cable companies. They charge consumers high prices for loads of monthly programming that is not premium in addition to high-priced Premium Channels such as HBO and Showtime. This is the first step. Of course, Amazon and HBO are starting out with older content that is no longer fresh. 

For the first time, canceled classic HBO series including "The Sopranos," "Rome," "Six Feet Under," "The Wire," "Deadwood," "Big Love," "Eastbound & Down," "Family Tree," "Enlightened," "Treme," and "Oz" plus mini-series "Band of Brothers" and "John Adams" will be available to Amazon Prime subscribers via Amazon's content licensing agreement with HBO. Prime Instant Video will be the exclusive online-only subscription home for select HBO programming. 

Per Forbes, in the wake of the announcement, Netflix shares went down, opening $10 lower than Tuesday’s close. Amazon opened $4 higher than Tuesday’s close but then dipped. 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. Wednesday, Netflix announced the creation of its first Spanish-language series, a new soccer comedy from Mexican director Gary Alazraki ("We Are the Nobles") due in 2015. Per the MPAA, Hispanics were the fastest growing segment of the moviegoing population in 2013. 

'Boardwalk Empire'
'Boardwalk Empire'

Also available on Amazon Prime Instant Video will be early seasons of still-running series "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood." Early seasons of ongoing popular HBO shows such as "Girls," "The Newsroom" and "Veep" will become available over the course of the multi-year agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO.  The first wave of content will arrive on Prime Instant Video May 21. This is the first time that HBO programming has been licensed to an online-only subscription streaming service. This programming will remain on all HBO platforms.

And HBO GO is also coming by year's end to Amazon’s new Fire TV, a small box that plugs into your HDTV for access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, SHOWTIME and video rentals.  You still have to subscribe to HBO GO via your cable subscription to access its content. HBO’s streaming service offers subscribers instant access to over 1,700 titles online including every episode of new and classic HBO series, as well as HBO original films, miniseries, sports, documentaries, specials and a wide selection of blockbuster movies.

More details on the deal below:

This article is related to: Web/Tech, Tech News, Tech, HBO , HBO, Amazon


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.