Amazon’s exclusive streaming deal with HBO, including shows such as The Sopranos and The Wire, will expire next year, HBO chief Richard Plepler yesterday told analysts in a conference call after Time Warner’s first quarter earnings report.

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Since May 21, 2014, Amazon Prime members have been able to watch previous seasons of the aforementioned two shows plus several others including Deadwood, The Newsrom, Six Feet Under, Big Love, Treme, Boardwalk Empire and True Blood. 

At the time, the deal was seen as a major addition for Amazon which was still struggling to compete with Netflix in the streaming category.

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This was also the first time that HBO licensed its programming to a subscription-only video streaming service, although Netflix pursued an agreement for years.

However, HBO now has an aggressive online presence, including its own HBO Now standalone streaming service, which costs $15 a month. The premium channel wants to pull its content back to make HBO Now and HBO Go (the edition which requires a pay TV subscription) more attractive to potential users.

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The HBO-Amazon deal is expected to end in May 2018.

Amazon will certainly miss HBO’s catalog of shows, but the company has since launched its own original programming unit with such shows as Gotham and Transparent, which have captured Emmys.

— Phillip Swann