If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber who’s been waiting for Game of Thrones to turn up among the service’s streaming catalog, we’ve got some bad news for you. HBO’s current licensing agreement with Amazon Prime is set to expire in May 2018, and HBO does not currently plan to renew it. All that older streaming content that’s been part of the Prime catalog for several years will be going the way of the dodo. In other words, you’ve got a year to finally get around to finishing The Wire.
The Amazon/HBO partnership began in 2014. The deal, worth an estimated $250 – $300 million, made older HBO series such as The Sopranos and Deadwood available to Prime subscribers. The long-term plan was for popular ongoing series such as Game of Thrones to eventually become available on Prime once their original broadcast run was completed. Now, however, that isn’t going to happen.
During a first-quarter earning’s call for Time Warner (as reported by Variety), HBO chairman-CEO Richard Plepler told investors HBO would be pulling their content off Prime in May 2018, after the current deal expires. This will remove competition for their own HBO Now streaming service…which is also available to Amazon customers through a monthly Amazon Channels subscription plug-in.
Explaining that HBO has seen “enormous momentum” of HBO subscription sales generated through Amazon, Plepler told investors, “I don’t think you’ll see us extend or expand our library programming on Amazon beyond the end of next year.”
None of this is terribly surprising. Given HBO’s line-up of high-profile water-cooler hits like Game of Thrones, True Detective, and Westworld, most interested viewers have likely already forked over an for an HBO Now subscription (or at least borrowed a friend’s). While it was definitely a Prime perk to be able to stream shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, continuing to leave them on Prime when customers could instead be enticed into a full HBO subscription made little business sense at this point. Especially since Amazon customers can easily add an HBO subscription to their existing Prime Instant Video line-up through Amazon Channels, along with similar plug-ins for Showtime, Starz, and many others.
Seriously, though — you should really finish watching The Wire already.