updated 09:27 am EST, Mon January 7, 2013
Agreement blocks Netflix from Universal content
HBO has signed a deal with Universal Studios that extends its exclusive rights to Universal Pictures' and Focus Features' films for another ten years. The extension prevents competing video-on-demand services such as Netflix from gaining access to content, keeping it on HBO's TV, mobile, and online services until the year 2022.
The exclusivity deal with Universal Studios joins other similar agreements HBO has made with Fox, Warner Bros, and Summit for their content. While the specific value of the deal itself is undisclosed, it has been speculated by the LA Times to cost around $200 million per year, or $2 billion over the lifetime of the agreement.
The deal appears to be a response to Netflix's agreement to exclusively carry Disney animations and films until 2016, including features from Pixar and Marvel Studios. A spokesperson for the HBO deal told TechCrunch "Yes, it is exclusive. Netflix can't touch it," suggesting it to be a move to fight off its biggest competitor in the heavily-competitive VOD marketplace. As well as the subscription-based HBO and Cinemax television channels, HBO also runs on-demand versions for cable TV services, as well as HBO Go and MAX Go, online and app versions of the on-demand service.
After it was revealed that original HBO production Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV series last summer, a Twitter-based movement called "Take My Money, HBO!" was formed, demanding for HBO Go to be a standalone streaming service without ties to a cable subscription. Despite the number of responses, HBO dismissed the move, claiming that the finances for such a service would not outweigh funds lost in losing support from existing network providers offering HBO content.