HBO has entered into a multiyear pact with Amazon.com that makes the e-commerce company’s Prime Instant Video the exclusive online-based subscription VOD service to offer past seasons of the premium cabler’s originals like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed; it covers only the U.S. Under the agreement, Amazon has exclusive SVOD rights for select HBO programming. That includes full seasons of “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Wire,” “Big Love,” “Deadwood,” “Eastbound & Down,” “Family Tree,” “Enlightened,” “Treme,” early seasons of “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Blood,” as well as miniseries like “Band of Brothers” and “John Adams.”
Deal marks the first time HBO programming has been licensed to an online-only subscription streaming service — and it’s a big win for Amazon in its rivalry with Netflix, the SVOD category leader. All the programming covered under the licensing deal with Amazon will remain on all HBO platforms, including HBO Go.
Previous seasons of other HBO shows that are currently airing on the cabler, including “Girls,” “The Newsroom” and “Veep,” will become available over the course of the multiyear agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO.
“As owners of our original programming, we have always sought to capitalize on that investment,” Glenn Whitehead, HBO’s EVP of business and legal affairs, said in a statement. “Given our longstanding relationship with Amazon, we couldn’t think of a better partner to entrust with this valuable collection.”
HBO also sees the licensing deal with Amazon as reinforcing its core business — in exposing its programming to Amazon’s audience, the hope is that HBO will sign up new subscribers.
The first wave of HBO content will arrive on Prime Instant Video on May 21.
In addition, the HBO Go service will become available on Amazon Fire TV, expected by the end of 2014. HBO Go is HBO’s authenticated streaming service, available to pay-TV subscribers of the channel, which provides more than 1,700 titles including every episode of HBO’s original series and other content.
“HBO original content is some of the most popular across Amazon Instant Video — our customers love watching these shows,” said Brad Beale, director of content acquisition for Amazon. “Now Prime members can enjoy a collection of great HBO shows on an unlimited basis, at no additional cost to their Prime membership.”
Amazon recently raised the annual fee of Prime, the free-shipping program that includes unlimited access to Prime Instant Video, from $79 to $99 in the U.S. In addition to acquiring licensed content, Amazon produces original TV shows through its Amazon Studios division.