HBO series are coming to Amazon Prime. This sounds like a pretty big get for Amazon, especially considering HBO hasn't regularly made their series available through streaming video services outside of their own HBO Go. The exclusive multiyear deal will not only include a number of popular previously-aired series, but also eventually some of HBO's current series, Girls and The Newsroom included.
Amazon passed the word along today, adding that their new set-top device Fire TV will be HBO Go ready by the end of the year. That too is exciting news, considering HBO's streaming video service was one of the few popular services Fire TV didn't offer, and possibly a deal-breaker for some consumers on the fence about purchasing it.
According to Amazon's announcement, the first wave of HBO content will be made available streaming through Prime Instant Video on May 21. The deal includes the following series (among others):
Six Feet Under
Eastbound & Down
Boardwalk Empire (earlier seasons)
True Blood (earlier seasons)
Also expect miniseries like Band of Brothers and John Adams, TV movies (Game Change, Too Big To Fail), documentaries and comedy specials (Lewis Black, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis CK, etc).
As for the newer series like Veep and Girls, the deal is set up so that they will become available on Prime approximately three years after airing on HBO.
This is a really big deal for streaming video. As we mentioned, HBO's clung pretty tightly to their original content in terms of streaming availability. Fans can buy digital versions of shows like True Blood and The Sopranos on iTunes or elsewhere, but it's not cheap. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to stream HBO Go (legally) needs to have an HBO subscription, which typically requires a hefty cable package. So those cord-cutters who have given up cable in favor of services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus would have had to give up HBO essentially, as there's no low-cost way to have it, and the big shows usually aren't available on Prime or Netflix. This changes that and could allow more people step away from cable if they know there's another way to binge-watch HBO shows (as long as they're willing to wait for the new ones).
The current cost of Amazon Prime is $79 a year, though that's expected to go up to $99. Still, factor in the free 2-day shipping for eligible Amazon purchase and the breakdown of what $99/year looks like on a per month basis (a little more than 8 bucks), that's a major bargain by comparison to the cost of cable.
But I feel like it's worth mentioning though that nowhere in Amazon's release (or the nearly identical one HBO sent around) was Game of Thrones mentioned. So winter may not be coming to Amazon Prime anytime soon, as I can't imagine they'd leave that series off the list if it was.
Beyond the Prime deal, it's big news that Fire TV will eventually be HBO Go ready. When we broke down some of the pros and cons to Amazon's "Fire TV" set-top box, the fact that HBO Go wasn't one of the mentioned compatible services was a big con on the deal, especially in terms of how Fire TV stacks up next to Apple TV and Roku. But it sounds like Amazon's taking steps to rectify that, though we'll have to wait a while.
Prior to the HBO licensing agreement, Amazon Prime recently secured deals with Twentieth Century Fox, Tribeca Film, BBC America, MTV and FX. Among the service's exclusives are 24, Veronica Mars, Orphan Black, Grimm and Comedy Central's Workaholics.