Amazon announced that HBO and Cinemax are now available through its Amazon Channels partner program, a move that will allow the company’s Prime customers to sign up for the SVOD services from HBO and Cinemax directly from its Amazon Video service.
“For years now, Amazon has demonstrated an incomparable capability for bringing customers exactly what they want, in all the ways they want it,” Sofia Chang, HBO’s EVO of worldwide digital distribution and home entertainment, said in a release. “We have a very successful partnership with this great company that continues to evolve. We share the goal of providing Amazon customers more ways to access all of the high-quality HBO and Cinemax programming they’ve been asking for.”
Amazon Prime customers won’t get any kind of discount, however. After a free first month of service, HBO will cost $14.99 per month, which is the same price the direct-to-consumer HBO Now streaming service costs. Similarly, after a free first month of service, Cinemax will cost $9.99 per month for Amazon Prime subscribers, which is the same price Cinemax charges to Sling TV customers who want to add the channel to their streaming service. (Time Warner first broke Cinemax out of the traditional pay-TV bundle in February by offering it through Dish Network’s Sling TV streaming service for $10 per month.)
Amazon first launched its streaming video storefront exactly a year ago under the “Streaming Partners Program” brand. The company has since renamed the offering Amazon Channels. Over the course of the past 12 months, Amazon has added a wide range of participating brands and channels to the service, including Showtime, Starz, PBS Kids and Acorn TV. In total, the company now counts roughly 80 premium and specialty channels through its Amazon Channels program, and it offers free trials on all subscriptions.
Amazon Channel participants like Time Warner get to tap into Amazon’s extensive Prime customer base—which Consumer Intelligence Research Partners recently estimated is around 63 million people—as well as Amazon's infrastructure and billing. Amazon, which built its business selling third-party products on the internet, is looking to create a similar opportunity by selling the growing range of third-party OTT and SVOD services through its video storefront.
The offering also sets Amazon apart from its main rival Netflix, which has worked to bolster its own SVOD service through a single, set price for all of its offering.
Importantly, the addition of HBO and Cinemax essentially signals Time Warner’s continued support of Amazon’s video strategy. Time Warner in 2014 agreed to distribute some of HBO’s older content through Amazon Video—a move that set Amazon apart from Netflix by giving it the ability to stream popular HBO series like The Sopranos, Veep and The Wire.
Time Warner’s latest deal with Amazon also reflects the company’s continued desire to expand its brands, including HBO, to a wider, direct-to-consumer market. "It's a successful product," Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes said earlier this year. "We're going to push on it."
He added that HBO Now counted roughly 1 million subscribers in March, 11 months after its initial launch.