Amazon Inks Deal to Stream Older HBO Shows

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Amazon Prime subscribers will soon have free access to Sopranos and The Wire, plus a ton of other great HBO shows.

You no longer have to subscribe to HBO to enjoy the network’s old shows, like “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” or “Six Feet Under.”

Amazon has reportedly cut an exclusive multi-year licensing deal with HBO, which will allow Amazon Prime subscribers the ability to watch a number of older HBO shows for no extra cost beginning on May 21.

This is a big deal for Amazon, Re/code said.

It’s the first time HBO has offered access to its catalog via a streaming video service that’s not its own HBO Go. And it gives Amazon an important bragging right/differentiation point as it tries to gain ground on rival Netflix.

Past seasons of HBO shows are available from Netflix via its mailed-DVD service but not via streaming.

Before you get too excited, there are some caveats you should be aware of. According to The Huffington Post:

The main catch is that only shows that have been out for three or more years will show up on Amazon Prime. Older shows like “The Wire” and “Big Love” will be available in their entirety, while the newest seasons of “Girls” and “Veep” won’t be available for three more years.

If you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan like me, you’re out of luck. The popular series will not be available to Prime members under the current agreement. “Sex and the City,” “Entourage,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “True Detective” and “Silicon Valley” are also excluded from the deal.

For a list of shows that Prime members will have unlimited streaming access to, check out this press release from Amazon.

The only reason I haven’t abandoned my cable subscription is because of HBO. The service is definitely a lure, for me and others, I’m sure.

It appears that the structure of the deal with Amazon is a win-win for HBO. It was designed not to undercut its cable business. If you want to watch new or recent HBO shows, you still have to pony up and pay for HBO. Variety said:

It does provide a way for HBO to monetize older shows while preserving its core biz, and — perhaps just as important — extend and promote its brand with a next-generation video player.

Amazon Prime subscriptions went from $79 to $99 per year in March.

What do you think of this new Amazon-HBO partnership? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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