Amazon grabs rights to stream older HBO shows

Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:18pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker and Lisa Richwine

(Reuters) -'s streaming video service will offer some older shows from premium-cable channel HBO starting next month, a deal that intensifies both companies' competition with subscription-video service Netflix.

This is the first time HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, has licensed its award-winning programming to an online subscription streaming service, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.

HBO shows are not available through Netflix. Netflix shares fell 4.7 percent to $355.31 on Nasdaq.

The deal does not include the entire library of HBO shows that are available on HBO Go streaming service. HBO Go will become an option on Amazon's Fire TV device, but only for subscribers to the HBO cable channel.

The partnership with HBO helps Amazon build a stronger case for its Amazon Prime service roughly a month after the largest U.S. online retailer boosted its annual Prime fee to $99 from $79.

Prime subscribers will have access to the HBO programming on May 21. Most will be older shows such as "The Sopranos" and "The Wire," or earlier seasons from current series such as "True Blood."

"HBO has the catalog depth to serve as a game-changer for Amazon," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

Amazon likely agreed to pay $200 million to $400 million a year for the rights to HBO programming, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali estimated.   Continued...

The logo for HBO is seen at the Cable portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California in this file photo taken August 1, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files