HBO wises up; brings its content to Amazon Prime Instant Video

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A couple of weeks back I wrote about Sesame Go, a subscription-based streaming service that lets kids watch full episodes of Sesame Street without having access to cable. I expressed my wish that HBO would offer something similar.

Now they've taken their first few baby steps towards making their content available to people who have cut the cord. Yesterday Amazon issued a press release to announce that some HBO content would be coming to Amazon Prime Instant Video.

The list is pretty long: The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Big Love, Deadwood, Eastbound & Down, Family Tree, Enlightened, and Treme, as well as early seasons of Boardwalk Empire and True Blood and several mini-series like Band of Brothers, The Pacific, and John Adams. I guess you could summarize that as older blockbusters and more recent series that weren't quite as popular (Family Tree, a quirky comedy starring The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd, aired last summer if I'm remembering correctly).

Other shows, or at least some of them (the release mentions Girls, The Newsroom and Veep by name) will become available three years after airing on HBO. Interestingly, the elephant in the room, Game of Thrones, is never mentioned.

The first HBO content will hit Prime Instant Video on May 21st. Amazon says This is the first time that HBO programming has been licensed to an online-only subscription streaming service.

So why the change of heart on HBO's part? Well for one, HBO Go (their streaming app) is coming to Amazon's Fire TV by the end of the year. So it could be that HBO really wanted to be on Fire TV and Amazon used that as leverage to get HBO to let them license some content. Or maybe it's as simple as Amazon approaching HBO with the right figure (ie, larger than anything Netflix ever offered).

In the long run the 'why' doesn't matter that much. This is good news for everyone except Netflix. We consumers can get access to some great series without having to pay the exorbitant cost of cable plus HBO subscription. Amazon has new exclusive (to stand-alone streaming services anyway) content to help offset concerns about the recent Prime price increase from $79/year to $99/year (an increase of $1.67/month) right when Netflix is saying it'll increase rates either $1 or $2/month. HBO gets to put its content in front of a new audience, at least some of whom, after discovering how good these series are, might be willing to upgrade their cable service to get HBO shows as they air.

So this is a great start for HBO and I hope they see it as a success. Maybe it'll prompt them to finally offer a stand-alone subscription to HBO Go.

Update: Here's the full list of HBO series coming on May 21st:

Boardwalk Empire
Bored to Death
Eastbound & Down
Enlightened
Treme
True Blood
Band of Brothers
Big Love
Carnivàle
Deadwood
Flight of the Conchords
In Treatment
Mildred Pierce
Oz
The Pacific
Rome
Six Feet Under
The Sopranos
The Wire

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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