Amazon has inked a major deal with HBO, bringing the network's original series to Amazon Prime members at no extra charge.
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Prime subscribers will start getting HBO shows in May, including all seasons of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome, Six Feet Under, Eastbound & Down, Enlightened, and Flight of the Conchords. Older seasons of current shows, including Boardwalk Empire, Treme, and True Blood, will also be available.
HBO will bring more shows to Amazon three years after their initial air dates. That includes previous seasons of current shows such as Girls, The Newsroom, and Veep. The deal also includes comedy specials, documentaries, original movies, and miniseries.
This is the first time that HBO has licensed its shows to an online-only streaming service. HBO has its own service, HBO Go, which includes all episodes of past and current shows, but it's only available to those who already get HBO as part of a pay-TV subscription. Amazon and HBO say they've made an "exclusive, multi-year" deal, but haven't disclosed the terms or the length of the arrangement.
The arrangement deals a hefty blow to Netflix, which has made no secret of its plans to beat HBO at its own game with killer original programming. While Amazon is also producing its own original shows, it has yet to come up with a hit on par with Netflix's Emmy-winning House of Cards.
HBO's trove of well-regarded series can help fill the void, especially for cord-cutters who haven't seen those shows before. And although Netflix currently holds a $3 per year price advantage over Amazon Prime, that's about to change as Netflix plans a price hike of $1 to $2 per month for new subscribers. Netflix better have more up its sleeve as the streaming video arms race escalates.
Amazon also announced that its Fire TV set-top box will get an app for HBO Go, but probably not until the end of the year.