Universal inked a deal with HBO on Monday that gives HBO exclusive rights to all Universal films for another decade. This is an extension of a previous exclusive agreement and means, essentially, that rival services like Starz and Netflix won't be getting ahold of Universal's movies anytime soon.
The extension is likely a reaction to Netflix's agreement with Walt Disney pictures for exclusive access to Disney animated features and films until 2016. But HBO may not be able to compete on the same level as Netflix. HBO was called "the closest thing Netflix has to a direct competitor" by a Forbes contributor on Monday, but close to Netflix it is not.
Watching an HBO movie on demand via HBO's Netflix analogue (called HBO Go) requires viewers to already have a pricey HBO cable subscription. Many view the system as sub-optimal, especially after the "Take My Money, HBO!" campaign, when Twitter users -- reacting to the news that HBO's "Game Of Thrones" was the most pirated series of the year -- demanded that HBO unhitch its HBO Go service from the larger HBO Channel subscription. HBO ignored the requests, and thus HBO's original content has remained accessible only with a $60-$120 HBO subscription.
But there's still hope for non-HBO subscribers who are thinking of streaming the new release "Les Miserables" -- or classic Universal films like "Jaws" or "Jurassic Park" -- within the next 10 years. HBO is testing out a version of HBO Go that's detached from the cable subscription model. The testing, of course, is happening in Scandinavia, where starting in mid-December, Scandinavians who were not subscribed to HBO were first able to access the HBO Go service for a 10 Euro fee. So if you're living in Finland, get ready for a plethora of Universal movies!
Otherwise, better subscribe to HBO cable -- or stick with the Pirate Bay.