True Blood
Credit: HBO

Big news for HBO fans: You can now watch many shows from the pay cable service without actually paying for cable, or buying the DVDs (or pirating the shows).

HBO has made a major deal with Amazon that gives Amazon Prime members unlimited streaming access to past seasons of shows like The Sopranos and Deadwood, as well as select seasons of current series such as True Blood and Boardwalk Empire. (See the full list below.) This is HBO’s first deal licensing its content to a streaming service. On average, the deal covers content that is at least three years old. For newer seasons, sorry — HBO still requires you get a subscription with a cable or satellite provider.

The network has previously licensed some content to basic cable networks, a move that’s actually keeping a few shows off Amazon Prime for the time being since they’re tied up in other deals (namely, Sex and the City, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Also, HBO is not putting its top-rated show, Game of Thrones, on Amazon Prime (because, frankly, Thrones is too big of a breadwinner for the network — it’s DVD sales have set records).

There’s also a second part of the deal which allows owners of Fire TV — the company’s new streaming box — to watch HBO’s current programming online service HBO Go. (But you still need an HBO subscription through a traditional provider, and HBO already made a similar deal for Kindle Fire.) Fire TV is a Roku-like box that allows you to stream online TV services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and, eventually, HBO Go. Amazon is targeting a year-end date for adding the HBO service.

Here’s all the shows going onto Amazon Prime starting May 21, from HBO’s release:

  • — All seasons of revered classics such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under, and of recent favorites such as Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and Flight of the Conchords. Update: Oz too.
  • — Epic miniseries, including Angels in America, Band of Brothers, John Adams, The Pacific and Parade’s End
  • — Select seasons of current series such as Boardwalk Empire, Treme and True Blood
  • — Hit original movies like Game Change, Too Big To Fail and You Don’t Know Jack
  • — Pedigreed documentaries including the Autopsy and Iceman series, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib and When the Levees Broke
  • — Hilarious original comedy specials from Lewis Black, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis CK and Bill Maher
  • — The multi-year deal will bring additional seasons of the current series named above, along with early seasons of other series like Girls, The Newsroom and Veep to Prime members over the life of the deal.