Why The Amazon/HBO Deal Changes Everything
Oh, TV, you so awesome.
I don’t mean the TV itself, though I’ll admit “awesome” is the only word that adequately describes a 65-inch flat panel with passive 3D.
No, I’m talking about what’s on TV. So many great shows, so little time.
This problem just got even worse, though in an entirely fantastic way: Amazon announced yesterday an exclusive deal with HBO, meaning Amazon Prime subscribers will have unlimited access to HBO’s back library of TV shows, miniseries, comedy specials, documentaries, and original movies.
Yep, that’s right: Now you can watch every episode of “Deadwood,” “Flight of the Conchords,” “The Wire,” and, if you’re into overrated shows with nothing but unlikable characters, “The Sopranos.” (That’s right, I said it. Though I have a hard time finding anyone who agrees with me.)
This is huge. Previously your only option for on-demand HBO was HBO Go, which requires a paid HBO subscription through your cable or satellite provider.
Amazon’s deal effectively cuts that cord, giving you oodles of HBO (though not all of it- -see below) under the same flat-rate Amazon Prime subscription. That subscription, you may recall, costs $99 per year, which works out to $8.25 per month. I’m not sure about your cable company, but mine, Comcast, charges $15 monthly for HBO.
Now for the catch: Although you’ll be able to watch most shows that have completed their runs, others (“Game of Thrones,” “Girls” “Veep,” etc.) won’t be available right away. In some cases you might get only early seasons, in others you might have to wait months (or even years) for shows to arrive on Prime.
According to Amazon: “Previous seasons of other HBO shows, such as Girls, The Newsroom and Veep will become available over the course of the multi-year agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO.”
So if you absolutely, positively must watch “Game of Thrones” as it airs, don’t cancel your cable subscription just yet.
But for anyone who’s already an Amazon Prime subscriber (or thinking about becoming one), the service just got a whole lot more attractive.
Okay, but how does this impact Netflix? Just two days ago I extolled the virtues of that service, or at least the value of it even in the face of a small price increase. Does this tip the scales in favor of Amazon Prime?
Yes and no. Netflix still has a much larger library of movies and TV shows, to say nothing of some must-watch original content. And it’s available in more places than Amazon Prime: Apple TV, Android devices, etc.
Truth be told, I’d be hard-pressed to pick one over another. If you can swing it, your best bet is to keep both!
Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.