HBO's older, legacy shows are coming to Amazon Prime Instant Video, the two companies announced in a deal on Wednesday, making Amazon Prime the first non-HBO site that can stream HBO's content online. No cable subscription or (borrowed) HBO Go password required.
Starting May 21, Amazon Prime will be able to stream HBO's greatest hits of the last two decades, including The Sopranos, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and more. Newer series, however, will only be released on Prime "approximately three years" after airing. To stream Girls and Game of Thrones, then, you'll still need an HBO account.
From HBO's side, the benefits of the deal are twofold. First, it gives young people, who are more prone to watch television online (or hadn't you heard?), access to its extensive catalog of shows, miniseries, and comedy specials. Millennials too young to watch The Sopranos when it aired, for example, can now binge-watch the show without acquiring an HBO cable subscription. For a network like HBO that places such importance on its reputation and legacy of quality programming, this feels like a vital step towards securing that legacy with the streaming set.
In addition, the deal with Amazon means that Netflix is on the outside looking in at HBO's shows. Netflix has attempted to position itself as a rival to HBO in recent years, which maybe explains why HBO wouldn't be so keen to hand over its catalog. After this deal, Netflix may want to consider Amazon more of a legitimate rival as well.