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Up until now, the only way that a viewer could stream HBO content was through HBO GO, which required a cable login that confirmed the user subscribed to the channel. This left cable cutters who wanted to catch up on past seasons of Girls, for example, in the lurch. However, that's all about to change.
Amazon announced yesterday that it has entered a multi-year contract with HBO to be the sole streaming provider of its content. That means that only Prime subscribers will be able to stream HBO shows without subscribing to the channel itself. Moreover, Amazon's new Fire TV streaming set-top box will include the HBO GO app, which was notably absent when the device was first announced earlier this month.
The exact details for the deal, however, are still unclear; Prime users reportedly won't have access to episodes of current seasons, but past seasons of current shows are fair game. The initial content rollout will begin on May 21, and over time more shows will be added. While it remains to be seen which titles will be immediately accessible, Game of Thrones will most definitely not be available through the deal. So if you've been itching to figure out what the Red Wedding was all about, you'll need to subscribe to HBO or buy the box set.
When Amazon announced a few months ago that it would raise the cost of Prime subscriptions to $99 a year, a lot consumers decried that the service was no longer worth it unless there was value added beyond free 2-day shipping. In fact, many readers specifically cited a need for improved media offerings. The HBO contract certainly fulfills this desire, and may soften the harsh $20 price increase for some consumers.
Moreover, having HBO content signals Amazon as a more realistic competitor for Netflix. As Forbes points out, "Amazon's streaming has just looked like a nice bonus for people who use Amazon Prime for free shipping," but it may now appear to be a genuine streaming alternative to Netflix.
Readers, what do you think of this deal? Does HBO content on Amazon make your Prime subscription more valuable? Are you more likely to subscribe to Prime with the enhanced media library? Sound off in the comments below!