HBO has struck a deal with the UK digital movie provider Blinkbox to make its TV shows available to buy and watch online.
It means that the latest seasons of Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire can be bought before their DVD and Blu-ray releases on an ‘electronic sell-through’ basis.
Episodes can be bought individually or as a complete season. No subscription is needed to use Blinkbox, which is owned by Tesco.
In the UK, HBO series get their TV debut exclusively on Sky’s subscription channels, such as Sky Atlantic and FX, before their eventual disc release.
Game of Thrones is typical of the ‘high demand, low availability’ model that has driven many fans to download it illegally. So at least there is now a legal alternative for Brits, bridging the gap between the pay TV window and DVD production, however, Blinkbox does not yet offer content in HD.
Game of Thrones costs £1.89 for individual episodes or £17.99 for each season. The Season 2 DVD release has yet to be announced, but for comparison, Season 1 costs about £25.
Later in the year Sky is expected to expand the NOW TV offering to bring Sky Atlantic content onto its new "no commitment" internet TV service, so that is likely to carry HBO shows and is available on computers, mobile devices, consoles, Roku and YouView boxes.
The Blinkbox arrangement begins now, though, and will see a range of other HBO series also become available on the service, including True Blood (seasons 1-4) and the mini-series Band of Brothers and The Pacific.
True Blood and Boardwalk Empire are both priced at £19.99 per season, as they have two more episodes per season compared to Game of Thrones.
Blinkbox content can be played on PCs and Macs. Some titles (though not the HBO ones, it seems) are available to download for offline access or watching on the iPad, Xbox 360, PS3 and LG and Samsung smart TVs and set-top boxes.
Images © Home Box Office