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Amazon Inks Exclusive Deal For HBO Shows (but not 'Game of Thrones')

Online Streaming Deemed More Lucrative Aftermarket Than TV

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Amazon has inked an exclusive deal for HBO series including "Boardwalk Empire" and "Band of Brothers," making its Amazon Prime Instant Video Service a stronger competitor to Netflix.

The deal encompasses many popular HBO series three years after their initial air date, meaning "Girls" will become available on Amazon next year. The deal does not include "Game of Thrones," which was deemed too valuable to include in the package, but does mean Amazon can offer "The Wire," "Big Love," "Eastbound & Down," "Treme" and "True Blood."

The deal will make Amazon the exclusive online distributor of HBO shows outside of HBO's own properties. As part of the deal, Amazon's Fire TV will carry HBO's own streaming service for its subscribers, HBO Go.

The deal marks a shift for HBO, which used to sell shows like "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" for syndication to cable networks like A&E and Bravo. Indeed, some iconic HBO series like "Sex in the City," "Entourage," and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" were not included in the Amazon deal because they are still tied up in TV syndication deals.

Going forward, HBO sees streaming services as a better aftermarket than TV, largely because each episode only makes sense in the context of the whole season or series, meaning they're better watched on-demand. The streaming services are also opening their wallets, while the TV syndication market has cooled off.

The deal is an extension of an existing relationship with Amazon that includes DVD sales and HBO Go on Amazon's Kindle.

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