HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking and memorable shows in television history. “The Sopranos” is often credited with single-handedly revitalizing the television drama and ushering in the so-called “golden age” of TV we’re experiencing right now. But for the most part, aside from DVD/Blu-Ray releases, they’ve held on tight to their original programming. Episodes of most HBO shows have been available for sale on the Apple store for quite some time now, but only after the corresponding episodes have seen a home video release, and always utilizing a pay-per-episode (or season) model. That all changes with the deal struck this week between HBO and Amazon, which will allow users of the “Amazon Prime” service to have full access to the back-catalog of HBO shows. However, if you’re hoping to catch the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” or “Girls,” you’ll still need to subscribe to the premium service–this deal only grants access to seasons that are at least three years old. But at least users won’t have to pay à la carte.
Critics of the deal say it changes absolutely nothing to offer up old programming, which HBO has always done in one way or another–for example, A&E has had the exclusive television rerun rights to “The Sopranos” for years now. But Netflix may have something to worry about, as it risks seeing its own users jettison over to try out Amazon Prime. From Forbes:
Following the announcement, shares of online streaming competitor Netflix NFLX -5.2%immediately took a downward turn, opening $10 lower than Tuesday’s close and trading for a 3.2% decline in early Wednesday trading action. Amazon, meanwhile, opened $4 higher than Tuesday’s close but then took a slight dip in early Wednesday action; shares are currently down 0.75%. Year-to-date, Netflix is the winner of the two, posting a 2.8% return for 2014 trading thus far against Amazon’s 17.3% year-to-date decline.
So it’s anyone’s guess how this one will play out. But between news like this as well as the ongoing fight Aereo has been waging to defend itself before the Supreme Court, it’s clear that the way we consume television is changing. Pretty soon, the notion of watching anything at scheduled broadcast times may be a thing of the past. The real question is: which streaming provider will come out on top?
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