×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why HBO Is Keeping ‘Game of Thrones,’ Other Shows Out of Amazon’s Hands

HBO has found an ideal partner in Amazon to stream its older shows — and the duo’s tag-teaming is certainly a blow to Netflix.

But to understand why the deal is a smart move for HBO, it’s important to look at what the deal doesn’t include. First, it’s only for original series, miniseries and specials that are at least three years old. In industry lingo, it’s a “library deal.” That means for access to the most recent shows on HBO, you still need to purchase a subscription to HBO through a pay-TV provider.

Another carve-out: “Game of Thrones” will never be coming to Amazon Prime Instant Video, at least under the current agreement. HBO has decided to retain that for itself, given the immense interest in the franchise and the prospect that “GoT” will continue on for several more seasons.

SEE ALSO: HBO Cuts Exclusive Licensing Deal with Amazon

Also excluded are three older shows that are tied up in U.S. syndication deals: “Sex and the City,” “Entourage” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

And there’s more. The deal also excludes new and future shows on HBO — so that means “True Detective” and “Silicon Valley,” for example, are not ever going to be coming to Amazon Prime Instant Video either. (Again, under the terms of the present deal, which could be renewed at some point.)

HBO had once said that it would never license its programming to a subscription VOD service. While Netflix may have wanted to get its paws on HBO’s content, the cabler did not enter into discussions with Netflix about a licensing deal, according to a source familiar with the deal.

SEE ALSO: Netflix the ‘New HBO’? Get Real

Now HBO has done a deal with Amazon. So what changed? It’s a win-win for the cabler in the way it has structured the deal.

For everything new (or even recent), you still have to pay for HBO. Next, by licensing older shows to Amazon, HBO gets a nice check from Jeff Bezos — at least $200 million and potentially more than $400 million over the lifetime of the deal for HBO at a very high margin, according to estimates by Bernstein Research. Morgan Stanley more conservatively pegs the deal value at $200 million to $250 million, with additional revenue as more HBO series are added to the service.

Plus, HBO will benefit from the exposure of its original series to consumers who may decide to subscribe to HBO for the freshest stuff… or after they realize that, say, “Game of Thrones” is not going to be hitting the Amazon queue.

So make no mistake, HBO’s deal with Amazon is not really the cord-cutter’s dream. Nor will it do anything to depress the rampant piracy of HBO programming by those unwilling (or unable) to pay for the premium service. But 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. And that player, it’s worth noting, is not Netflix, which has actively compared itself to HBO to get the ear of Wall Street and Hollywood.

More TV

  • Savannah Sellers and Gadi Schwartz -

    NBC News Digital Workers Form New Union

    A group of approximately 150 editorial workers who help produce some of NBC News digital content have formed a union, citing a desire to push their employer to work more seriously through such issues as equal pay and the recent handling of sensitive stories. Editorial employees of NBC News Digital won certification of their union [...]

  • Fox Nation Tests Holiday Programming

    Fox Nation Tests Holiday Programming

    The Fox Nation streaming-video service has long been touted as a new option for super-fans of the Fox News Channel. But some of the broadband hub’s new programming choices suggest adherents of “Fox & Friends” and Sean Hannity aren’t looking solely for chatter about politics and interviews with members of the Trump administration. Subscribers to [...]

  • ET Live

    ET Live, ET Online Cut Nearly 25% of Staff as Streamer Narrows Scope

    When ET Live first launched on Halloween of 2018, the free “Entertainment Tonight”-branded streaming network kicked off with 15 hours of live programming a week, in three daily installments of entertainment news a day at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. But after just a few months, the direct-to-consumer platform — modeled off of [...]

  • Victoria Pedretti and Penn Badgley You

    Victoria Pedretti on How L.A. and Joan Didion Influence 'You' Season 2

    A recent graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Victoria Pedretti broke out last year with her role as the tragic, youngest Crain sibling in Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House.” Her star has continued to rise with a role in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” playing Manson family member Leslie “Lulu” Van [...]

  • The Mandalorian Episode 6

    ‘The Mandalorian’: 5 Burning Questions From Episode 6

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not watched the first six episodes of Disney Plus’ “Star Wars” spinoff series “The Mandalorian.”” Episode 6 of “The Mandalorian” continued the series’ propensity for heavy references to its sister works in the “Star Wars” galaxy. Virtually the entire episode took place inside a high-security prison ship, [...]

  • Sera Gamble You Showrunner

    Inside 'You' Season 2 on Netflix: We're Not in Manhattan (or Lifetime) Anymore

    Stepping into a chocolate brown ranch-style home, Penn Badgley’s broody Joe Goldberg wanders through a pool party being thrown on a Tuesday afternoon, exasperated. Inside are hipsters lazing on unicorn floats, several men in Borat swimsuits and a reporter who’s chasing down a Jared Padalecki rumor. Toto, we’re not in Manhattan anymore. When Season 2 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content