If you asked me yesterday, which streaming media service I would keep if, I could only keep one, I would tell you, like many, Netflix. However today, Amazon, by way of HBO fired a shot in the war for streaming supremacy, that could see them finally gain some ground. HBO has inked a deal with Amazon Prime Instant Video that would see them bring their vast library of series (minus Game of Thrones) and mini-series to the service. As of now, the deal in place will give users instant access to shows that have already completed their runs, but shows that are currently airing will only have seasons dating three years back. I’m assuming that is a move kept to keep people using HBO Go.
At first, the move didn’t seem like it made a lot of sense of HBO’s perspective, but the more I think about it, the more I like it from a competition POV. As many know, there is no love lost between HBO and Netflix. HBO views Netflix as the pesky little brother service, getting in its way, and Netflix sees HBO as a stodgy old grump. So HBO, who has already thrown it’s hat into the streamwars with Go, has started playing “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” game by allowing its content on Amazon. HBO wins by getting more eyeballs to their superior content, and Amazon wins by getting exclusive content good enough to warrant adding their service. Netflix loses by having their chief rival in Amazon get into bed with the content provider they coveted most. This, on the heels of Netflix reporting a price hike, and things are starting to get a bit problematic for the Red and White.
The only way I can see Netflix attempting to turn this loss into a win is by pivoting. I can see them saying that while it’s great that Amazon now has access to the vast HBO catalog, Netflix is focusing more on producing more original content. Amazon is on it’s second wave of original series, and none of them have hit. Meanwhile, Netflix has watercooler series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black garnering Emmy and Golden Globe noms left and right. I think that the HBO acquisition buy Amazon a bit more time to curate their original series a bit better. Their “pilot season” seems like a novel idea, but it hasn’t led to a hit yet.
Oddly enough, it appears that while HBO, Amazon, and Netflix are all beating each other up, the consumer, is winning. I normally hate a price hike to no end. Netflix is going up a few bucks in a few years, Amazon has gone from $79 to $99 a year, and HBO is still the prettiest, and most expensive premium channel at the party. That said, when you consider what you get for all of their streaming services, what often amounts to $10 bucks a month, is nothing. I cut the cable cord eons ago (infinite stealing of HBO Go logins yo!), and moves like HBO to Amazon and Marvel TV to Netflix will make sure I never regret that decision.