One of the most significant advances in the entertainment industry last year was the exponential boom of streaming content. Netflix in particular, originally a disc rental service, was at the forefront of focusing all attention on that front by increasing their catalogs, adding original content and charging more for it all. On a seemingly daily basis, more people are deciding they want to consume content via streaming and several companies are competing for the best product.

Right now, Netflix Instant’s bread and butter is television. They have multiple seasons, or in some case the entirety, of shows like The Wonder Years, Arrested Development, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. However, the one blazing, glaring omission from their impressive collection are the hugely popular shows from HBO.

Shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex and the City or Entourage are not available to stream anywhere besides HBO’s latest project, HBO Go. The only way to watch those shows on Netflix is to rent the discs themselves and now reports are that HBO won’t sell Netflix any more copies. What exactly does this mean? Read more after the jump.

CNET (via Engadget) first reported this news.

Basically, in the past Netflix was able to buy HBO DVDs directly from the company, and in bulk, at a discounted rate. But, starting in 2012, that is no longer an option. To stock new HBO shows – such as Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, which are soon being released on disc – Netflix will have to buy them from a third party at a higher rate.

So, basically, the consumer won’t notice. They can add those shows to their Netflix queue and they’ll arrive when they arrive because Netflix will need to buy them at any cost. The only real people who’ll notice are the accountants at Netflix who’ll have to pay a little more. The important news here is the symbolic line in the sand HBO is drawing with Netflix. HBO knows Netflix wants their content and Netflix has been very wary that HBO is becoming an important competitor. It seems it’s now official.

Do you think the HBO shows are that important? Do you stream them on HBO Go, watch them on DVR or not at all? Is Netflix suffering without HBO?

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