HBO Inks Exclusive Deal With Amazon Prime

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

Gandolfini struck gold when he landed the role of mafia boss Tony Soprano on HBO’s critically beloved drama from David Chase. The actor scored six Emmy nominations, winning three awards -- in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Gandolfini reflected on the moment he became aware of the show’s significance in a 2012 Vanity Fair oral history: “I went to a boxing match with some of the guys, and it was like this crowd just went, ‘Roarrrr.’ So that was like, OK, it’s pretty big.” Tony Soprano is an iconic TV character, often landing on lists celebrating the small-screen’s best creations. According to Metacritic, which aggregates critics’ reviews, The Sopranos has a superb 96 rating.

UPDATED: The premium cable network is making Prime Instant Video the online-only subscription home for select HBO programming.

HBO has forged an exclusive long-term licensing deal with Amazon's streaming service Prime Instant Video, making it the exclusive online-only subscription home for hundreds of hours of HBO programming including all episodes of classic series The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire and Six Feet Under and movies and miniseries such as John Adams, Band of Brothers and Angels in America.

The first wave of content will arrive on Amazon Prime on May 21.

According to Re/Code's Peter Kafka, Amazon will pay HBO more than $300 million as part of the three-year deal.

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Previous seasons of newer shows including Veep, The Newsroom and Girls will become available approximately three years after airing on HBO. 

Additionally, HBO Go will become available on Amazon's Fire TV, targeting a launch by year-end. The deal is a first for HBO as the premium service has kept past episodes of its programming inside its own walled universe on authenticated service HBO Go and its own on-demand platforms. HBO has been cautious about entering the SVOD ecosystem in order to protect the lucrative fees customers pay cable providers for access to HBO's original content and Hollywood movies, which continue to be a significant driver of eyeballs to HBO.

Licensing content to streaming services remains a balancing act for premium cable networks, where the bread-and-butter is still subscription fees. In 2012, Starz ended what the company came to feel was a disadvantageous deal with Netflix that gave the SVOD service's users access to Starz programming with little delay. The deal was worth about $30 million annually to Starz. CBS Corp., which owns Showtime, last year began to make past seasons of Showtime's hit drama Dexter available on Netflix.

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Amazon Prime also has exclusive online-only subscription deals for PBS' Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, CBS' Under the Dome and upcoming Halle Berry-headlined miniseries Extant as well as 24, Veronica Mars, Orphan Black, The Americans and Justified. But it has had less success with its own original series; neither Alpha House nor Betas has achieved the pop culture significance of Netflix's Kevin Spacey drama House of Cards.