Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) just got HBO.
According to a post at Google+ earlier this week, the search king secured the rights to offer downloads of HBO original shows via the Google Play store. Seven programs in all, including the megahit Game of Thrones.
Who wins biggest in this deal? I'd say Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) , which has a long history of extracting huge syndication fees for its top hits. For example, A&E paid a reported $2.6 million per episode for the rights to rebroadcast The Sopranos. Spike paid some $600,000 per episode to air Entourage reruns.
And yet Google isn't paying for syndication rights. Rather, the search king is selling single episodes or whole seasons for a fixed fee and then keeping a share of the profits. HBO and Warner win only if Google proves adept at selling their content. Syndication pays regardless of how well the show performs for the buyer.
So, if Google isn't paying up as A&E and Spike did, why should we consider this a win for Time Warner? Because every new store interested in HBO content expands the network's revenue opportunity. What's more, because Time Warner won't offer current-season HBO content -- you can only purchase seasons one and two of Game of Thrones, for example -- there's a chance that digital samplers who become hooked could grow to become full subscribers.
Google, for its part, gets to claim parity with iTunes and Amazon when it comes to HBO programming, which, in turn, should make its Nexus smartphones and tablets more appealing. How much more? That's difficult to say, but every win helps, especially now when various news outlets are reporting that the new Nexus 5 handset is due out by the end of the month.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Who do you like in this deal: Google or Time Warner? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
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