skip to main content
We may earn money when you click our links.

Netflix Syndicates HBO Shows, Bringing Them to a Wider Audience

HBO original Insecure on Netflix

The Take

  • Five HBO shows, including Insecure, are coming to Netflix and will be available to stream as part of a new co-exclusive agreement with Max.
  • The shows allow HBO’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery to license content and make extra money for the bottom line.
  • More HBO shows are reportedly coming to Netflix. They will also stream on Max.
  • The syndication deal could complicate deals with actors and writers. Both groups are on strike and fighting for more residual money from syndication and streaming deals.

A long time ago, you could watch shows with many episodes (usually over 100) in syndication on channels like TNT, TBS, and even Nick at Nite. But the rise of streaming moved show libraries online, and beyond the syndication mainstays like Friends and Two and a Half Men, it seemed like the age of streaming had found its next victim.

Then Netflix announced that Issa Rae’s HBO show Insecure was streaming on its platform.

The inclusion of HBO content on Netflix is part of HBO’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, licensing content to boost the company’s revenue. But will it work? Since it launched streaming, HBO hasn’t licensed content to rival services, and the streaming agreement could hurt subscriber numbers on Max.

Adding HBO Originals to Netflix brings the shows to a wider audience, allowing more people to see the groundbreaking Insecure and Congressional favorite Ballers. It could also get more viewers to HBO and Max to watch similar content.

For context, SHOWTIME and Netflix have made similar arrangements in the past for blockbusters like Dexter and Shameless.

For now, the five HBO shows will bring prestige cable content to Netflix, offering viewers another option and allowing the shows to get seen beyond their original audience. It could be a win-win for everyone.

Can I watch HBO shows on Netflix now?

The entire HBO library is still on Max, but a select number of shows will also be streaming on Netflix. The Netflix deal is co-exclusive, meaning the shows will stream on Netflix and remain on Max and HBO.

As of July, only five shows are confirmed to stream on U.S. Netflix and Max; however, only Insecure is currently available. Six Feet Under, Ballers, Band of Brothers, and The Pacific will join Insecure later. True Blood has been streaming on Hulu in the U.S. since January and will stream internationally on Netflix.

But if you want to watch more than those six shows …

Syndication offers more money for studios

Before HBO Go or Max existed, HBO shows like The Sopranos, Deadwood, and The Wire aired on Amazon. But otherwise, syndication stayed in the family: Sex and the City reruns were on TBS, and Insecure ran on OWN (both part of the Warner Bros. Discovery family).

The co-exclusive agreement between Warner Bros. Discovery and Netflix is uncommon in the streaming age. Studios tend to put shows they own on their streaming services, like Max featuring HBO content and Paramount+ airing CBS content.

Syndicating older HBO shows could also have unintended consequences for Warner Bros. Discovery. The HBO shows haven’t left HBO (or HBO Go … or HBO Max … or Max) since they aired, and syndicating them on other channels or streaming services opens the studio up to syndication revenue.

That syndication revenue is also a big reason writers and actors are on strike. The rise of streaming took away residual payments that actors and writers receive when a show does well and airs on other channels. If this co-exclusive streaming agreement goes well, it could benefit the studios and help struggling writers and actors, or it could be another reason writers and actors remain on strike.

Don't miss an update

Stay updated on the latest products and services anytime anywhere.