Amazon to Stream ‘The Sopranos’ and Other HBO Shows

The Sopranos
The late actor, James Gandolfini, played Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos,” one of the most iconic characters in TV. (Photo credit: HBO/The Sopranos)

In a letter to shareholders on Monday, Netflix hinted at a rate-hike for new members—and eventually for existing subscribers—to better position itself to acquire new content to its streaming service. Those plans won’t include HBO shows.

Amazon, the Internet retail giant-turned streaming content delivery service, announced Wednesday an agreement with HBO that would bring some of the network’s top hits such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire to Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Recent hits—Girls, The Newsroom and Veep—would become available three years after airing on HBO.

The deal marks the first time HBO content will appear on platforms other than its own.

“HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking, beloved and award-winning shows in television history, with more than 115 Emmys amongst the assortment of shows coming to Prime members next month,” Brad Beale, director of Content Acquisition for Amazon, said in a press release announcing the agreement. “HBO original content is some of the most-popular across Amazon Instant Video—our customers love watching these shows.”

Amazon Prime members pay a yearly fee—which Amazon just raised to $99—and have hundreds of TV shows and films to choose from. Amazon, like Netflix, is also developing its own original content that streams exclusively on Amazon Instant Video.

The Amazon-HBO deal is a blow to Netflix, which was reportedly interested in adding HBO programming to its vast video library. In Monday’s letter to shareholders, Netflix said it would increase by one or two dollars the monthly rate of its streaming service—which is currently $7.99 in the United States. The Los Gatos, California-based streaming service also hinted that the rate-hike could also hit current subscribers in the future.

Amazon Prime members will be able to access The Sopranos and other HBO shows beginning May 21, Amazon said.

The list of shows and mini series include: The SopranosThe WireDeadwood, RomeSix Feet UnderEastbound & Down, Enlightened, Flight of the Conchords, Angels in America, Band of Brothers, John Adams, The Pacific and Parade’s End. Amazon also noted that it acquired the rights to select seasons of Boardwalk Empire, Treme and True Blood.

HBO exclusive movies such as Game Change will also be available on Amazon Instant Video.

Amazon Prime subscribers who do not pay for HBO will be disappointed to learn that the epic series, Game of Thrones, which is currently in its fourth season, is not part of the deal. Two popular series that are no longer airing—Sex and the City and Entourage—also didn’t make the cut.

Most of HBO’s past and current programming is available to its subscribers on the network’s other platforms, including HBO Go.