HBO’s Amazon Haul Is Big — But Not as Big as You Might Think

How much is Amazon paying to get its hands on HBO’s old shows?

A lot! But less than some people might have thought.

Jeff Bezos’s company will pay HBO more than $300 million over the course of the three-year term, according to multiple people familiar with the deal.

That’s a big sum for Amazon, but also very doable: The retailer generated sales of $75 billion last year, and is thought to be spending at least $1 billion a year to build up its streaming video catalog.

That money is also very nice for HBO, since selling repeats on the Web is a very high-margin operation. But HBO was already doing very well: Last year it generated operating income of $1.7 billion on revenue of $4.9 billion.

The fact that HBO isn’t getting more for its old shows, like “The Sopranos,” helps underscore the idea┬áthat HBO isn’t radically changing its model by selling them to Amazon.

Yes, selling its old shows to an online subscription service is a new thing for HBO. But it’s a thing that is supposed to keep its existing business intact by keeping its new shows locked down for three years. And it is keeping its most popular show — “Game of Thrones” — out of Amazon’s streaming service altogether.