Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO


The online retailer has faced mounting pressure to boost its bottom line after a spate of furious growth. As more Americans shop online, Amazon has spent heavily to expand its business into new areas - from movie streaming to e-readers and groceries - often at the expense of profit.

After hike prices for membership earlier this year in a nod to those investors, Amazon appears ready to expand its offerings further in a grab for streaming market share.

The multi-year content licensing deal between Amazon and HBO will bring a trove of shows to prime users. Aside from "The Sopranos" and "The Wire," others include "Big Love," ''Deadwood" and early seasons of "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood."

Original movies including "Too Big to Fail" and "Game Change" will also become available, as will original comedy specials from Lewis Black, Louis C.K., Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Maher.

Prior seasons of other HBO programs - like "Girls" and "Veep" - will become available about three years after airing on HBO.

"Prime members can enjoy a collection of great HBO shows on an unlimited basis, at no additional cost to their Prime membership," said Brad Beale, director of content acquisition for Amazon.

The first batch of shows will be available on Prime Instant Video starting on May 21.

Glenn Whitehead, executive vice president of business and legal affairs at HBO, said that the company has always wanted to capitalize on its position as owners of its original programming.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed Wednesday.

The companies also said that HBO's streaming service 'Go' will be offered on Amazon's new streaming device, Fire TV, likely by year's end.

Shortly after announcing its first price hike for Prime membership since the service was initiated in 2005, Seattle-based Inc. unveiled the $99 Fire TV earlier this month. The device delivers online video, music and other content to televisions.

The company, with the introduction of the device, has gone into direct competition with Apple Inc. and Roku, which offer their own streaming devices. The deal with HBO will undoubtedly put pressure on streaming rival Netflix. Shares of Netflix slumped more than 3 percent in early trading Wednesday.

Shares of Amazon declined $2.46 to $326.98.

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