Amazon and HBO are joining hands for an exclusive licensing deal that will bring HBO’s content to Amazon’s $99-per-year Prime subscription service, with the first shows hitting Prime on May 21.
Assuming you’re a fan of the sort of content HBO offers, including some of the highest-acclaimed series in television history, that’s as big a deal as any in recent memory — the first time in history HBO’s paired off with an online-only subscription-based streamer.
It means access to HBO will no longer be limited to cable or satellite provider packages, opening the door wide for the first time to cord-cutters who’ve doubtless been waiting for a deal like this to go down. It means you’ll be able to tap HBO with anything that currently supports Amazon’s Prime channel — set-tops, tablets, phones, game consoles, etc. — and gain access to whole swathes of HBO content (as well as free two-day shipping and Kindle library lending) for Amazon’s standard $99-per-year fee.
Bear in mind, if you’re not a member, that Prime content is free to Prime members; this isn’t HBO signing up to let Amazon charge you to watch these shows. Amazon says Prime members will have “unlimited streaming access” to shows that include:
- All seasons of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under, as well as Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and Flight of the Conchords
- Miniseries, including Angels in America, Band of Brothers, John Adams, The Pacific and Parade’s End
- Select seasons of current series such as Boardwalk Empire, Treme and True Blood
- Original movies like Game Change, Too Big To Fail and You Don’t Know Jack
- Documentaries including the Autopsy and Iceman series, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib and When the Levees Broke
- Original comedy specials from Lewis Black, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis CK and Bill Maher
Amazon says earlier seasons of HBO shows like Girls, The Newsroom and Veep will roll out “over the course of the multi-year agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO.”
Not to worry, cable subscribers and HBO Go users: Amazon assures HBO content will remain “on all HBO platforms.” HBO hasn’t signed any of its series over to Amazon exclusively, in other words; only the right to stream existing shows through Prime. What’s more, Amazon says the HBO Go app is coming to Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box by the end of the year, the upside being access to the full HBO caboodle if you pay monthly for HBO: “1,700 titles online including every episode of new and classic HBO series, as well as HBO original films, miniseries, sports, documentaries, specials and a wide selection of blockbuster movies.”