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Did Amazon Mistakenly Tip Off HBO’s Decision To Stop Licensing Its Shows?

Deadline logo Deadline 5/3/2017 David Lieberman
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HBO chief Richard Plepler’s brief comment this morning during Time Warner’s earnings call that the premium network plans to stop licensing shows to Amazon Prime in 2018 was news — but not really a surprise.

An analyst posed a question to Plepler following up on reports about Amazon’s recent notice to customers that several HBO shows were coming off. Vulture reported that Amazon Prime Video posted a notice on its home page in April saying that several HBO series would leave the platform on May 21. It later took down the notice, and said it was a mistake.

Turns out it was about a year too early.

“I don’t think you’re going to see us extend or expand our relationship with our library of programming on Amazon,” Plepler said today. “And we have no plans to do that beyond the end of the date, which is the end of next year.”

Plepler noted that in December his company agreed to offer HBO via Amazon Channels for $14.99 a month — further enabling viewers to access the channel without first subscribing to cable or satellite. Customers would also be able to watch all seasons of previous hits including The Sopranos, Sex And The City, True Blood, The Wire and Deadwood.

The HBO chief says that he has “seen enormous momentum there — as we have, by the way, across all of our digital platforms, including DirecTV Now.”

Wall Street took the news in stride.

“This is a trend we expect to hear more of as content providers hold their content for their own OTT platforms to enhance their value, rather than monetize through content sales and benefit a competitor’s platform,” says Jefferies analyst John Janedis.

HBO’s licensing deal with Amazon in 2014 was seen as a slap at Netflix. It was beginning to be seen as a rival to the premium network following the 2013 debut of House Of Cards.

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