Amazon inks deal to stream HBO content, starting in May

CNET

Competition between streaming giants Amazon and Netflix is about to get a whole lot tougher. Amazon announced on Wednesday that it has entered a content licensing agreement for select HBO programming.

Beginning May 21, Amazon Prime members will have unlimited streaming access to a wide variety of content -- such as "The Sopranos," mini-series "Band of Brothers" and crime drama "The Wire." HBO GO will also become available on Fire TV by the end of the year.

The retail giant announced its Amazon Fire TV set top box in early April, saying that was working to offer content from HBO Go, but it wasn't available at the time of Fire TV's launch. The news also follows Amazon's increased competition with Netflix -- the online giant announced that it had surpassed Hulu and Apple in streaming video traffic, ranking third after Netflix and Youtube, according to a recent report.

This agreement also marks the first time that HBO television shows has been licensed to an online-only subscription streaming service. HBO is following other television series that have been exclusively available on Instant Video, including the British drama "Downton Abbey," and other hit television shows such as "Veronica Mars," "Suits" and "Covert Affairs."

According to Brad Beale, director of content acquisition for Amazon, HBO original content is some of the most popular for the online retailer's customers.

"HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking, beloved and award-winning shows in television history, with more than 115 Emmys amongst the assortment of shows coming to Prime members next month," Beal said in a press release.

Glenn Whitehead, the executive vice president of business and legal affairs at HBO, agreed. Already having such a longstanding relationship with Amazon, HBO couldn't think of a better partnership, says Whitehead.

"Amazon has built a wonderful service -- we are excited to have our programming made available to their vast customer base and believe the exposure will create new HBO subscribers," Charles Schreger, the president of programming sales for HBO, said in a press release.

In addition to a variety of popular HBO series, select seasons of "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood" will be available to Amazon Prime Members. Earlier seasons of current HBO shows such as "Girls," "The Newsroom" and "Veep" will become available over the course of the multi-year contract.

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