Why Amazon's Deal With HBO Wasn't One Bit Surprising

Jun 05, 2014

Last month, Amazon was all over the headlines.

This isn't anything new, right? But apparently, what the internet giant did in May was worth major coverage, in-depth analysis, and lots of "what can this mean?" speculations.

And all Amazon did was sign an agreement with HBO.

Sure, the deal was interesting. It now means Amazon Prime subscribers can stream many of HBO's top titles, including Boardwalk Empire and True Blood. It also means the general public no longer needs a cable subscription to view past seasons of these shows (and HBO doesn't need to worry about viewers resorting to illegally downloading the programs, either). Despite the fact that HBO didn't include its ever-popular Game of Thrones, the entire thing was still a no-brainer, a win-win-win situation for everyone.

But that's about it.

Yet some media analysts apparently thought this was a groundbreaking deal, a fascinating development in the world of entertainment that'll pave the way for all future viewing trends. One Forbes contributor even wrote, "Content is king, and the king's castle is now the Internet, as the Amazon/HBO deal reaffirms, and a lot of content delivery systems are going to be disrupted by the king's move to his new castle."

Well, I have some "news" for you, the Forbes writer, and everyone who's meticulously picking apart this deal: content may be king, but his castle's been the Internet for a long time already.

Ever heard of a thing called YouTube? What about Netflix?

Yeah, they've been online for years. And they're really popular; in fact, YouTube is the #2 search engine in the entire world, processing more than 3 billion queries a month. This video covers all the other incredible stats connected to YouTube (based on this infographic from Mushroom Networks):

And subscription-based Netflix hasn't done so bad for itself, either. Check out this chart put together by Harris Interactive, found on statistica.com:

Among the younger generation of U.S. adults, 43% subscribe to Netflix, which is only 3% behind the number of those who subscribe to cable. Additionally, Netflix subscriptions in this age range are higher than those for satellite TV, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus combined.

So while true, the whole "content is king, and the king's castle is now the Internet" statement shows its ignorance with that one little word: "now." The word reveals the author's limited understanding of the way that entertainment has been consumed for quite a while now.

Which leads me to believe that maybe age is the key factor here.

The Amazon deal wasn't that surprising to me personally because, well, I'm in that younger demographic that purchases a Netflix subscription and Amazon Prime membership. I've never considered cable prices to be worth my money, and I default to watching web series on YouTube or shows on Netflix and Amazon until whatever popular show currently airing on cable that I'm "missing out on" is eventually transferred to one of these services (because inevitably, this is what happens).

Yes, I realize I'm more attuned to this topic, because like my post last month discussed, I've been in love with all forms of online video and digital entertainment for years. And I'm not trying to claim that I or anyone else my age is superior because we "get" the internet entertainment thing. But ask almost any younger adult you know about this Amazon and HBO deal and they'll likely respond the way I did: "Cool! I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner."

Though there are exceptions to my age-related theory (I know plenty of people over age 40 who are fully involved in the online entertainment industry), it's a general truth that younger adults more easily adapt to changes in technology and culture. Online video and digital entertainment is no exception.

So maybe all this Amazon and HBO deal really did to be worthy of headline news was further emphasize the different viewing expectations of the various age ranges, and how some companies are more progressive than others in trying to provide each group with the kind of content delivery it wants.

Amazon and HBO understand this; who will be next?