HBO has taken one step closer to cutting the cord. Starting in May, Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service will offer some of HBO’s coveted programming, according to Re/Code.
Now, let’s be clear. HBO, which has said many, many times that it does not see a financial benefit to offering a standalone streaming service, will not offer all of its shows on Amazon. The library doesn’t include new series, until three years after they air. Also, Game of Thrones is completely off limits. And even some of the back catalog will be missing–Sex and The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Entourage are stuck in syndication deals.
But, still, this is a big coup for people who don’t want to pay for cable and want to watch HBO. (At least those few people who haven’t managed to snag an HBO Go password from their friend’s dad.) A cord-cutting optimist might see this as an experiment. If things go well, maybe one day we might get a standalone HBO Go service. (Probably not! But here’s hoping.)
The deal is also a win for Amazon, which is competing with Netflix to win over subscribers. In the war of the streaming services, exclusivity is the key to success. You subscribe to Netflix because you can’t live without House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, and Netflix is the only place to find that programming. Amazon has also tried going down the original series route, with less success than Netflix. It’s not as valuable as something truly exclusive, but the HBO content gives people who are ready to go on a Wire journey, for example, a reason to subscribe to Amazon Prime.
Other HBO shows available via Amazon will include all seasons The Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, and Six Feet Under, Eastbound & Down, Enlightened, and Flight of the Conchords. Select seasons of current series like Boardwalk Empire, Treme, and True Blood will be available, as will miniseries like Angels in America, Band of Brothers, and John Adams. In addition, HBO GO will become available on Fire TV by the end of 2014.