If you asked that question a week ago, when Seattle-based Amazon.com, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) raised its annual fee for Amazon Prime to $99 from $79, you might have heard a far different answer. But those upset by the company’s March announcement that the popular streaming movie and T.V. service (that also offers free two-day shipping) would see a price hike April 17 had to wait less than a week for that extra $20 seem like money well spent.
Amazon’s Prime Instant Video will now offer select HBO original programming to non-HBO subscribers for the first time – all for just $8.25 a month. That means exclusive access to older show like The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and more. There will also be access to select seasons of Treme, Boardwalk Empire and True Blood. And there will be more to come, as well, as part of the multiyear deal between Amazon and New York-based Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE:TWX) HBO (fans of Game of Thrones and True Detective will have to wait, though). Amazon also has exclusive rights to Downton Abbey, Justified, and Orphan Black, not to mention special access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.
Compared to the $15.95 you’d have to shell out every month in addition to your monthly Time Warner Cable bill for 20 HBO channels, on HBO On Demand and HBO GO, or the $19.99 for a similar package via New York-based Verizon Communications Inc.’s (NYSE:VZ) FiOS (but for 14 channels), that sounds like a pretty good deal.
Netflix Misses Out
Even compared to Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix, Inc.’s (Nasdaq:NFLX) $7.99 streaming service, which now boasts popular shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, Amazon Prime’s HBO catalog stands up very well. It should be note that with this deal Netflix has missed out on offering HBO content, which would have made its coming price hike easier to swallow.
One more player in the space, Hulu, a joint venture of NBC Universal Television, Fox Broadcasting Co. and Disney-ABC Television Group., charges $7.99 for streaming its movies and T.V. shows, but is a relative lightweight with 3.3 million subscribers compared to Netflix’s 33.1 million U.S. subscribers.
The Bottom Line
Amazon Prime may cost 25% more, but for the price of a glass of wine you can binge on much of HBOs back catalog, have your Amazon purchases delivered fast and occasionally read a free book.