HOME BOX OFFICE (HBO) is an American premium cable and satellite
television network that is owned by
Time Warner through its respective
flagship company HOME BOX OFFICE, INC. Programming featured on the
network consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures
and original television series , along with made-for-cable movies and
documentaries , boxing matches , and occasional stand-up comedy and
concert specials .
HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television
service (basic or premium) in the United States, having been in
operation since November 8, 1972. In 2014,
HBO had an adjusted
operating income of US$1.79 billion, compared to the US$1.68 billion
it accrued in 2013.
HBO has 49 million subscribers in the United
States and 130 million worldwide as of 2016. The network provides
seven 24-hour multiplex channels , including
HBO Signature, and
HBO Family. It launched the streaming service HBO
Now in April 2015 and has over 2 million subscribers in the United
States as of February 2017.
* 1 Overview
* 2 History
* 2.1 Development and launch
* 2.2 National expansion, innovation and rise to prominence
* 2.3 Rising prominence of original programming (1993–present)
* 3 Channels
* 3.1 Background
* 3.2 List of channels
* 3.3 Other services
HBO on Demand
* 4 Programming
* 4.1 Original programming
* 4.2 Movie library
* 4.2.1 Former first-run contracts
* 4.3 Sports programming
* 4.4 Documentaries
* 5 Other ventures
* 5.1 Television channels
* 5.1.1 Take 2
* 5.1.2 Festival
* 5.1.3 The Comedy Channel /
* 5.2 Television and film production
* 5.4 Merchandising
* 6 Branding
* 6.1 Network slogans
* 7 International versions
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 10 External links
As of July 2015, HBO's programming is available to approximately
36,493,000 households with at least one television set (31.3% of all
cable, satellite and telco customers) in the United States (36,013,000
subscribers or 30.9% of all households with pay television service
receive at least HBO's primary channel), making it the second largest
premium channel in the United States (Encore , owned by
Starz Inc. ,
reaches 40.54 million pay television households as of July 2015 ).
In addition to its U.S. subscriber base,
HBO distributes content in at
least 151 countries, with approximately 130 million subscribers
HBO subscribers generally pay for an extra tier of service that
includes other cable- and satellite-exclusive channels even before
paying for the channel itself (though
HBO often prices all of its
channels together in a single package). However, a law imposed by the
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that cable providers
allow subscribers to get just "limited" basic cable (a base
programming tier that includes local, and in some areas, out-of-market
broadcast stations and public, educational, and government access
channels) and premium services such as HBO, without subscribing to
expanded service (
Comcast is the only major provider to have
purposefully offered the network in such a manner utilizing this law,
as it offered a bundled cable/Internet package that included limited
basic service and
HBO from October 2013 to July 2014, or January of
the latter year in some markets). Cable providers can require the
use of a converter box – usually digital – in order to receive
HBO also provides its content through digital media; the channel
HBO Go , a video on demand streaming service available as a
website and slate of mobile apps exclusively to existing subscribers
of the linear channel suite and a separate, but similar standalone
HBO Now , which launched in April 2015 as a subscription
streaming platform that does not require a subscription to the HBO
HBO programs have been syndicated to other networks and
broadcast television stations (usually after some editing for running
time and/or content that indecency regulations enforced by
jurisdictional telecommunications agencies or self-imposed by network
Standards and Practices departments may prohibit from airing on
broadcast and cable networks), and a number of HBO-produced series and
films have been released on
DVD . Since HBO's more successful series
(most notably shows such as
Sex and the City ,
The Sopranos , The Wire
, Entourage , Six Feet Under ,
Boardwalk Empire ,
Game of Thrones and
True Blood ) air on over-the-air broadcasters in other countries (such
as in Canada, Australia and much of Europe – including the United
Kingdom), HBO's programming has the potential of being exposed to a
higher percentage of the population of those countries compared to the
Because of the cost of
HBO (which is the most expensive of the U.S.
premium services, costing a monthly fee as of 2015 between $15 and
$20 depending on the provider), many Americans only view
through DVDs or in basic cable or broadcast syndication – months or
even years after these programs have first aired on the network –
and with editing for both content and to allow advertising, although
several series have filmed alternate "clean" scenes intended for
DEVELOPMENT AND LAUNCH
Charles Dolan – who had already done pioneering work in
the commercial use of cables and had developed Teleguide, a
closed-circuit tourist information television system distributed to
hotels in the
New York metropolitan area – won a franchise to build
a cable television system in the
Lower Manhattan section of New York
City. The new system, which Dolan named "Sterling Information
Services" (later to be known as Sterling
Manhattan Cable, and
eventually becoming the then
Time Warner Cable which merged into
Charter Communications in 2016), became the first urban underground
cable television system in the United States.
Rather than stringing cable on telephone poles or using microwave
antennas to receive the signals, Sterling laid cable beneath the
Manhattan , because the tall buildings in the city blocked
television signals and because the New York City Council had required
that all electrical and telecommunication wiring be laid underground
to limit service disruptions during bad weather, an ordinance that was
passed after a blizzard in 1888 damaged telephone and telegraph lines
in the area. In that same year, Time-Life, Inc. purchased a 20% stake
in Dolan's company.
Manhattan consistently lost money during its first six years
of operation, because of the expense of running cable underground and
into buildings throughout
Manhattan (as much as $300,000 per mile) and
a limited subscriber base, 400 of them by 1971. In the summer of 1971,
while on a family vacation in France,
Charles Dolan began to think of
ideas to make Sterling
Manhattan profitable. He came up with the
concept for a cable-originated television service, called "THE GREEN
CHANNEL". Dolan later presented his idea to Time-Life management;
though satellite distribution seemed only a distant possibility at the
time, he persuaded Time-Life to back him on the project.
To gauge whether consumers would be interested in subscribing to a
pay television service, Time-Life sent out a direct-mail research
brochure to residents in six U.S. cities. An overwhelming majority of
those surveyed (approximately 99%) opposed the idea; 4% of those
polled in a second survey, conducted by an independent consultant,
said they were "almost certain" to subscribe to such a service.
Time-Life later conducted a test in
Allentown, Pennsylvania , in which
salesmen presented the concept of a pay cable channel to residents by
offering free service for the first month and a refundable
installation fee; half of residents surveyed in the test expressed
interest in purchasing the conceptual service. In a meeting of Dolan
and some Time-Life executives who were working on the project, various
other names were discussed for the new service. They ultimately
settled on calling it "HOME BOX OFFICE", although the name was
originally intended as a working title in order to meet deadlines to
publish research brochures for the new service, with the belief that
management would come up with a different name later. Original
HBO logo, used from 1972 to 1975.
Originally, Home Box Office was to debut on a
Service Electric cable
television system in Allentown; in order to avoid blackouts for NBA
games that it was set to televise (Allentown was within the NBA's
designated blackout radius for the
Philadelphia 76ers ' market area,
under rules that the league had in effect at the time to protect
ticket sales), Time-Life agreed to an offer by Service Electric
John Walson to launch the channel on its system in
Wilkes-Barre (outside of the 76ers' DMA, in northeastern Pennsylvania
). Home Box Office launched on November 8, 1972. However, HBO's
launch came without fanfare in the press, as it was not covered by any
local or national media outlets. In addition, the city manager of
Wilkes-Barre declined an offer to attend the launch ceremony, while
Time Inc. president and chief executive officer J. Richard Munro was
unable to attend as he was stranded in traffic while trying to exit
Manhattan on the
George Washington Bridge on his way to Wilkes-Barre.
The first program and movie distributed on the channel, the 1971 film
Sometimes a Great Notion , starring
Paul Newman and
Henry Fonda , was
transmitted that evening to 325
Service Electric subscribers in
Wilkes-Barre (a plaque commemorating this event is located at Public
Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre). Home Box Office distributed its
first sports event immediately after the film: an NHL hockey game
New York Rangers
New York Rangers and the
Vancouver Canucks from Madison
Square Garden . Four months later in February 1973, Home Box Office
aired its first television special , the Pennsylvania Polka Festival.
Home Box Office would use a network of microwave relay towers to
distribute its programming to cable systems throughout its service
Manhattan Cable continued to lose money because the company
had only a small subscriber base of 20,000 customers in Manhattan.
Dolan's media partner, Time-Life, Inc., gained control of Sterling
when it acquired an additional 60% equity interest, increasing its
stake in the company to 80%; Time-Life then decided to pull the plug
on the Sterling
Manhattan operation. Time-Life dropped the "Sterling"
name and the company was renamed "
Manhattan Cable Television" under
Time-Life's control in March 1973. Gerald Levin , who had been with
Home Box Office since it began operations as its vice president of
programming, replaced Dolan as the company's president and chief
In September 1973, Time-Life, Inc. completed its acquisition of the
pay service. At the time, Home Box Office's future looked dim: it only
had 8,000 subscribers across 14 cable systems, all of which were
located in Pennsylvania, and it was suffering from a significant
subscriber churn rate .
HBO would eventually increase its fortunes
within two years: by April 1975, the service had around 100,000
subscribers in Pennsylvania and New York state, and had begun to turn
a limited profit.
NATIONAL EXPANSION, INNOVATION AND RISE TO PROMINENCE (1975–1993)
The RCA Satcom domestic communication satellite launched on
December 13, 1975, spurred the cable television industry to
unprecedented heights – with the assistance of HBO.
Time-Life executives realized the problems in trying to expand Home
Box Office's distribution footprint using microwave towers because of
the time and expense that would be incurred in developing such a vast
relay infrastructure, and began looking for cost-efficient methods of
transmitting the channel nationally. In 1974, they settled on using a
geostationary communications satellite to transmit
HBO to cable
providers throughout the United States. Other television broadcasters
at the time were hesitant about uplinking their feeds to satellite due
to fears that the satellites may inadvertently shut down or jettison
out of their orbit, as well as due to the cost of purchasing downlink
receiver dishes, which in 1974, were sold for as much as $75,000.
Seeing satellite transmission as the only viable option to expand
HBO's reach, Gerald Levin allocated $6.5 million to lease transponder
space on the
Westar 1 satellite for a five-year term. The Time-Life
board subsequently approved the plan to transmit
HBO via satellite.
At 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 1975,
HBO became the first
television network to continuously deliver its signal via satellite
when it distributed the "
Thrilla in Manila " boxing match between
Muhammad Ali and
Joe Frazier ; it was beamed to UA Columbia
Cablevision's systems in Fort Pierce and
Vero Beach, Florida , and
American Television and Communications Corporation's Jackson,
Mississippi system, as well as those already carrying
HBO in the
northeastern United States . Through the use of satellite, the
channel began transmitting separate programming feeds for the Eastern
and Pacific Time Zones , allowing the same programs that air first in
the eastern half of the United States to air at accordant times in the
western part of the country.
HBO switched its domestic satellite
Westar 1 to Satcom 1 in February 1976. By 1977, Ted
Atlanta superstation WTCG-TV (soon to become WTBS ) and Pat
Robertson 's CBN Satellite Service (later to become the present-day
Freeform ) had joined it, pioneering satellite delivery for the cable
television industry. By 1980,
HBO was carried on cable providers in
all 50 U.S. states. First version of HBO's current logo, used
from 1975 to 1981; during 1980,
HBO used this logo in tandem with the
second incarnation of the logo (seen above, in the Infobox) that is
still used to this day .
HBO distributed its programming for only nine hours each day, from
3:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time, during its first nine years of
operation. The network first adopted a 24-hour schedule on weekends in
September 1981, running from 3:00 p.m. on Friday afternoons until
12:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday nights/early Monday mornings; this
round-the-clock schedule was expanded to weekdays three months later
on December 28, 1981 (however,
HBO was not the first pay television
network to maintain an uninterrupted programming schedule as Showtime
The Movie Channel had both switched to 24-hour daily schedules
months earlier). By this time, the full "Home Box Office" name was
de-emphasized by the network, in favor of branding solely by the "HBO"
initialism (although the full name is still used as the legal
corporate name of its parent division under Time Warner, and in
on-air use within copyright tags featured during the closing credits
of the channel's original programs and a legal disclaimer slide seen
daily on its primary and multiplex channels).
HBO premiered its first original movie, The
Terry Fox Story
, a biopic about the Canadian runner who embarked on a cross-country
run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research;
the film was also the first movie ever produced for pay television.
That year also saw the premiere of the first children's program to be
distributed on the channel:
Fraggle Rock (that series' creator, Jim
Henson , had earlier produced the special Emmet Otter\'s Jug-Band
Christmas , which won an ACE Award in 1978 ).
HBO continued to air
various original programs aimed at children until 2001, when these
programs almost completely moved over to
HBO Family (which continued
to occasionally distribute its own slate of original children's
programming until 2003).
HBO became involved in several lawsuits during the 1980s, involving
legal statutes imposed by state and city laws that would have resulted
in some programs on
HBO and other pay television networks being
censored by cable systems, if not forcing the pay services to edit
inappropriate content from the programming they aired. In January
HBO became the first satellite-delivered television network to
encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher
II system; this initially resulted in a mass lodge of complaints from
television receive-only (TVRO) satellite users that previously
received HBO's programming without a subscription. The objections by
TVRO users over having to now pay for
HBO as cable subscribers had
long done (requiring dish subscribers to purchase an expensive
descrambler to unencrypt the signal) came to a head four months later,
HBO became a victim of broadcast signal intrusion when satellite
television dealer John R. MacDougall, a Florida man calling himself
"Captain Midnight ", redirected a receiver dish towards the network's
transponder on Galaxy 1 and intercepted its signal during a movie
The Falcon and the Snowman ; MacDougall overrode the
telecast of the film with a text-based message placed over SMPTE color
bars in protest of the channel's decision to scramble its signal for
home satellite subscribers. The Federal Communications Commission
subsequently prosecuted MacDougall for committing the intrusion.
In 1988, HBO's subscriber base expanded greatly as a result of the
Writers Guild of America strike that year, as the channel had new
programming in its inventory during a period in which the broadcast
networks were only able to air reruns of their shows. In 1989, HBO
compared its programming against rival pay television network
Showtime, with the slogan "Simply the Best", using the Tina Turner
single "The Best " as part of the network's on-air image campaign.
On January 2, 1989,
HBO launched Selecciones en Español de
Cinemax ("Spanish Selections from
HBO and Cinemax") – an alternate
Spanish-language feed of
HBO and Cinemax. The service, which initially
launched on 20 cable systems in markets with significant populations
of Spanish speakers, originally only carried Spanish audio simulcasts
of live boxing matches televised by
HBO (except for certain events
that were already distributed in Spanish on networks such as
Galavisión ), dubbed versions of recent feature film releases from
HBO's movie suppliers and first-run Spanish-language movies (mostly
from Mexico, Argentina and Spain), but later added Spanish dubs of
films and other programs distributed by HBO. Selecciones – which was
offered in tandem with HBO, although it operated as a separate service
– utilized the second audio program auxiliary channel to distribute
its Spanish audio feeds. Selecciones en Español de
HBO y Cinemax
became successful to the point that it added 35 additional cable
systems to its list of carriers within a few weeks after its debut.
Selecciones en Español became
HBO en Español on September 27, 1993.
Taking advantage of HBO's successes,
Warner Communications (which
ironically was part-owner of one of the network's pay-cable
competitors, The Movie Channel, from its launch in 1973 until joint
venture group Warner-Amex Satellite
Entertainment sold its stake in
the channel to
Viacom in 1986) merged with
Time Inc. in
1989 to create
Time Warner , which as of 2016 , remains the parent
company of the network. In 1991,
Cinemax became the first
premium services to offer multiplexed channels to cable customers with
the launches of HBO2, HBO3 and
Cinemax 2 on three cable systems in
Texas . In 1993,
HBO became the world's first
digitally transmitted television service. The move proved successful,
eventually resulting in
Cinemax starting up additional
multiplex channels of both services – starting with the December
1996 launch of
HBO Family and concluding with the launch of four
Cinemax channels in 2001: WMax (now MovieMax), @Max (now Cinemáx),
OuterMax and 5StarMax.
RISING PROMINENCE OF ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING (1993–PRESENT)
HBO headquarters in New York City, April 2017
During the 1990s,
HBO began to experience increasing success with its
original series such as Tales from the Crypt , Dream On , Tracey Takes
Mr. Show with Bob and David and
Arliss . One such program, The
Larry Sanders Show , arguably became HBO's flagship series during that
decade and although it was not commercially as successful as programs
that aired on the Big Three networks (ABC ,
CBS ) and Fox ,
the show did enjoy a cult status and critical acclaim, and received
nominations and wins for many major television awards (including
Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards ). The series ranked
#38 on TV Guide\'s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time (becoming the only
HBO comedy series to make the list) and was also included in Time 's
list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time". The Larry Sanders Show
was also ranked by various critics and fans as one of the best TV
comedies of the 1990s.
The original programs that
HBO has developed since the early 1990s
have earned the channel numerous nominations for and wins of Emmy and
Golden Globe Awards. One aspect as to the perceived higher quality of
these shows is due to both the quality of the writing on the programs
and the fact that as a subscription-only service,
HBO does not carry
"normal" commercials; instead the network runs promotions for upcoming
HBO programs and behind-the-scenes featurettes between programs. This
HBO from some pressures to tone down controversial aspects of
its programs, and allows for more explicit content to be incorporated
into its shows that would not be allowed to air on broadcast
television or basic cable, such as profanity, strong/graphic violence,
nudity and graphic sex scenes.
Beginning with the 1997 launch of its first one-hour dramatic
narrative series Oz ,
HBO started a trend that became commonplace with
premium cable services. Although critically acclaimed, it was not
The Sopranos premiered in 1999, that the network achieved both
mass critical and Emmy success.
The Sopranos – centering on mob
Tony Soprano (
James Gandolfini ) and his family – received
111 Emmy nominations during its six-season run, resulting in 21 wins,
two of them for Outstanding Drama Series .
1998 saw the debut of From the Earth to the Moon , a 12-part
miniseries that was produced by
Tom Hanks ,
Ron Howard and Brian
Grazer and based on the
Andrew Chaikin book
A Man on the Moon .
Costing $68 million to produce, it traced the U.S. space program from
the U.S./U.S.S.R. space race through the final moon landing, Apollo 17
. From the Earth to the Moon won an Emmy Award for Outstanding
Miniseries , and helped spur other
HBO miniseries based on historical
events such as
61* , Band of Brothers , John Adams and The Pacific .
That year also saw the debut of the comedy series
Sex and the City ,
which was based on the book series of the same name by Candace
Bushnell ; over the course of its six-season run, the show –
centering on the friendship and romances of four New York City women
– received 54 Emmy nominations, winning seven, including one win for
Outstanding Comedy Series .
HBO became the first U.S. cable channel to operate a
high-definition simulcast feed. In July 2001,
Demand, the first premium subscription video-on-demand enhancement in
the United States, to
Time Warner Cable subscribers in Columbia, South
HBO debuted Six Feet Under and in 2002
The Wire , which,
although not surpassing
The Sopranos in viewership success, matched
its critical acclaim and further cemented HBO's reputation as a
network that produced quality programming.
HBO experienced another
success among viewers in 2008, with the debut of
True Blood , a
vampire drama based on a series of gothic novels by
Charlaine Harris .
The network saw three more hit series in the 2010s with Game of
Thrones , based on
George R. R. Martin 's fantasy novel series A Song
of Ice and Fire , which earned both critical and viewer praise; Girls
, a comedy series created by series star
Lena Dunham ; and True
Detective , an anthology -style series – structured to feature a
different cast and setting within each season's storyline – which
initially saw established film actors
Woody Harrelson and Matthew
McConaughey in its lead roles.
On August 13, 2015,
HBO announced its re-entry into children's
programming, when it reached a five-year programming and development
Sesame Workshop . Through the agreement,
first-run television rights to
Sesame Street , beginning with the
January 2016 debut of its 46th season (with episodes being distributed
to the program's longtime broadcaster,
PBS , following a nine-month
exclusivity window at no charge to its member stations); Sesame
Workshop will also produce original children's programming content for
the channel, which will also gain exclusive streaming rights to the
company's programming library for
HBO Go and
HBO Now (assuming those
Amazon Video ,
Netflix and Sesame Workshop's in-house
subscription streaming service, Sesame Go, the latter of which will
cease to operate as a standalone offering). Although struck with the
intent to having the show remain on
PBS in some fashion, the nonprofit
production company reached the deal due to cutbacks resulting from
declines in public and private donations, distribution fees paid by
PBS member stations and licensing for merchandise sales.
On October 22, 2016,
AT&T reached a deal to buy
Time Warner for
$108.7 billion. If approved by federal regulators, the merger would
bring Time Warner's properties, including HBO, under the same umbrella
as AT"> , although
HBO and Cinemax's respective multiplex packages are
marketed collectively as the "HBO/MAX Pak".
HBO Family and
had the distinction of being the only multiplex channels of
have their own websites, as all of the others were integrated within
HBO site; the separate sites and sections for both channels
were eliminated in 2010, around the time the
HBO Go service was
LIST OF CHANNELS
Depending on the service provider,
HBO provides up to thirteen
multiplex channels – seven 24-hour multiplex channels, all of which
are simulcast in both standard definition and high definition – as
well as a subscription video-on-demand service (
HBO On Demand).
Off-the-air maintenance periods of a half-hour up to two hours occur
during overnight periods at scattered times on each channel once each
HBO broadcasts its primary and multiplex channels on both Eastern and
Pacific Time Zone
Pacific Time Zone schedules. The respective coastal feeds of each
channel are usually packaged together (though most cable providers
only offer the east and west coast feeds of the main
HBO channel, as
well as HBO2 in some cases), resulting in the difference in local
airtimes for a particular movie or program between two geographic
locations being three hours at most. The premium film service Cinemax,
which is also owned by
Time Warner through Home Box Office Inc.,
operates as a separate service from HBO; although
HBO is very
frequently sold together in a package with Cinemax, subscribers to one
of the services do not necessarily have to subscribe to the other.
DESCRIPTION AND PROGRAMMING
HBO The flagship service;
HBO airs popular feature films; first-run
films; original series and made-for-cable movies ; boxing events;
sports, stand-up comedy and occasional concert specials; and
documentaries. The channel also typically debuts new movies on a
weekly basis – with feature films debuting on
HBO within a lag of
between eight months to one year on average from their initial
theatrical release – on Saturday nights (usually around 8:00 p.m.
Eastern Time; the
Pacific Time Zone
Pacific Time Zone broadcast of the premiered film
airs later in the evening when a live special – most commonly, a
HBO World Championship
Boxing After Dark –
is scheduled to air that particular Saturday, with the special being
shown after the movie on the
Eastern Time Zone
Eastern Time Zone feed). The main HBO
channel mainly airs R-rated films only after 8:00 p.m. Eastern and
Pacific, but does air certain TV-MA rated programs during the daytime
HBO2 A secondary channel that features a separate schedule of
theatrical and original made-for-cable movies, series and specials, as
well as same-week rebroadcasts of newer films, boxing events and
HBO original series aired recently on the primary channel.
Unlike the main
HBO channel, HBO2 broadcasts R-rated films during the
daytime hours. Launched on August 1, 1991, the channel was renamed HBO
PLUS on April 1, 1998, but reverted to the original "HBO2" name in
September 2002. In Latin America, a regional version of HBO2
rebroadcasts movies previously aired on the main
HBO Latin America
HBO Plus functions as a separate channel.
HBO COMEDY Launched on May 6, 1999,
HBO Comedy features comedic
films, as well as rebroadcasts of HBO's original comedy series and
stand-up specials; the channel broadcasts R-rated films during the
daytime hours, but only airs adult comedy specials at night.
HBO FAMILY Launched in December 1996,
HBO Family features movies and
series aimed at children, as well as feature films intended for a
broader family audience. It airs a block of series aimed at
HBO Family Jam", each morning from 6:00 to 11:00 a.m.
and weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific
Time; films and family-oriented original specials fill out the
remainder of the channel's daily schedule. All films broadcast on
HBO Family are rated G, PG or PG-13 (or the equivalent TV-G, TV-PG or
TV-14); R-rated films and TV-MA rated programs are not broadcast on
the channel. Prior to
Sesame Street 's migration of first-run episodes
to the channel in January 2016, children's programs formerly ran on
HBO channel in the form of a daily morning block, with
specials airing during the late afternoon/early evening hours; these
programs migrated entirely to
HBO Family by the early 2000s.
HBO Family is HBO's third (and only successful) venture at a
family-oriented pay service: two similarly formatted standalone
mini-pay services that were launched by the network, Take 2 in 1979
and Festival in 1987, both ceased operations after short existences.
Despite being a premium service, cable providers have occasionally
HBO Family to temporarily replace television stations that were
dropped due to carriage disputes with providers such as during Hearst
Television 's 2012 dispute with
Time Warner Cable that resulted in
Bright House Networks system substituting independent
WMOR-TV with the channel in
Tampa, Florida , and a dispute
Cox Communications and LIN TV in which
HBO Family temporarily
replaced Fox affiliate
WVBT from Cox's
Hampton Roads, Virginia system
from January to February 2000.
HBO LATINO Launched on October 31, 2000 (although originally slated
to debut on September 18 of that year),
HBO Latino is a channel aimed
at Hispanic and Latino American audiences that largely serves as a
Spanish language simulcast of the primary
HBO channel, with the
exception of some limited program substitutions and different network
promotions featured in-between programs (
HBO and its other multiplex
channels also utilize the second audio program function included on
many television sets, and cable and satellite receivers to provide
alternate Spanish language audio tracks of most programs). The
channel's programming includes
HBO original productions, Spanish and
Portuguese series from
HBO Latin America, dubbed versions of Hollywood
blockbusters, Spanish-language films and boxing events (including the
original boxing series Boxeo De Oro). The channel is the successor to
HBO en Español (originally named Selecciones en Español de
Cinemax), which launched in 1989.
HBO Signature features high quality films, HBO
original series and specials. Launched in 1991, the channel was
originally known as "
HBO 3" until October 1998, when its format was
changed from a genericized format similar to
HBO and HBO2 to focusing
on movies, series and specials targeted at a female audience.
HBO ZONE Launched on May 6, 1999,
HBO Zone airs movies and HBO
original programs aimed at young adults between the ages of 18 to 34
years old. It is also the only
HBO channel that broadcasts softcore
pornographic programming, featuring adult-oriented movies similar to
those seen on sister network Cinemax's Max After Dark block on most
days in late-night.
On August 1, 1980,
HBO launched Cinemax, a companion movie-based
premium channel created as HBO's answer to fellow movie-oriented pay
The Movie Channel (which operated as a standalone service at
the time). Unlike HBO,
Cinemax maintained a 24-hour schedule from its
launch. The channel succeeded early on partly due to its reliance on
movie classics from the 1950s to the 1970s – with some more recent
films mixed in – that would be presented uncut and without
commercial interruption, at a time when cable subscribers only
received about three dozen channels due to limited headend channel
capacity. In most cases, cable operators sold
HBO as a
single package, usually offered at a discount for customers that chose
to subscribe to both channels.
In its early years,
Cinemax carried music specials and some limited
original programming such as
Second City Television and Max Headroom
in addition to movies, but the network subsequently become known among
its subscribers for airing softcore adult films and series during the
late night hours that contain strong sexual content and nudity
(broadcasts of such programs are restricted from airing on the main
Cinemax channel before 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time), and eventually
began producing original action series in August 2011. Beginning with
the launch of
Cinemax 2 (now MoreMax) in 1991,
Cinemax has gradually
launched its own set of multiplex services; as of 2015 , in addition
to its main feed and MoreMax,
Cinemax operates five additional
channels: ActionMax (which originally launched as
Cinemax 3 in 1995);
ThrillerMax (which launched in 1998); MovieMax (which originally
launched as WMax in 2001); Cinemáx (a Spanish language simulcast
feed, which originally launched as the separately formatted @Max in
2001) and 5StarMax (which originally launched in 2001).
HBO HD is a high definition simulcast feed of
HBO that broadcasts in
1080i resolution format. In addition to its main channel, HBO
also operates high definition simulcast feeds of its six multiplex
HBO HD is available on most major cable providers including
Charter Communications ; Time Warner
Dish Network ;
Comcast ; AT
Optimum ; and
Verizon FiOS ,
although few providers offer all seven multiplex channels in HD. The
main channel first began broadcasting in high definition on March 6,
HBO On Demand
HBO on Demand is the channel's subscription video-on-demand service;
launched on July 1, 2001 on
Time Warner Cable's Columbia, South
Carolina system, it was the first subscription VOD service offered by
a premium channel in the United States.
HBO on Demand offers a
selection of movies, original series and specials previously seen on
the network. The service is provided at no additional cost to HBO
subscribers, who already regularly pay a premium fee to cable and
satellite providers to receive access to the channel.
HBO launched the
VOD service in an effort to allow subscribers access to the channel's
programming on their own schedules, thereby reducing the frequency in
which viewers were unable to find a program they would like to watch
as well as limiting cancellations to the service for that same reason.
HBO on Demand features a rotating selection of films, specials and
series, with select new titles added each Friday alongside existing
program titles held over from the previous one to two weeks.
The standard definition and high definition versions of the
Demand service are available on most cable and satellite providers,
delivered to customers who subscribe to the linear
HBO channels at no
additional charge. On January 3, 2011,
HBO became the first premium
channel and the first cable network to offer a 3D -only VOD service as
it launched a subscription video on demand service offering select
feature films in 3D to
Time Warner Cable,
Comcast and Verizon FiOS
customers who subscribe to the
In the United Kingdom, a domestic version of
HBO on Demand launched
TalkTalk TV in 2015, available through the provider's box sets as a
strictly buy-and-keep service.
HBO Go logo
On February 18, 2010,
HBO Go, a service that carries
1,000 hours of program content available for streaming in standard or
high definition, intended as a
TV Everywhere service available only to
existing subscribers of the linear
HBO television channels (a
requirement necessary to access its content via streaming devices such
Apple TV , and select video game consoles , as well as via
its website and mobile apps). Content available on
HBO Go includes
theatrically released films as well as
HBO original programs, movies,
comedy specials, documentaries, sports and late night adult
HBO Now logo
On October 15, 2014,
HBO announced plans to launch an over-the-top
subscription video on demand service in 2015, which would be
distributed as a standalone offering that does not require an existing
television subscription to use. The service,
HBO Now, was unveiled
on March 9, 2015, and officially launched one month later on April 7.
The service was initially available via
Apple Inc. to
Apple TV and
iOS devices for a three-month exclusivity period following its formal
launch, before becoming available for subscription through other
participating Internet service providers . Available for $15 per
HBO Now is identical to
HBO Go in terms of content and
features. New episodes of
HBO series are made available for streaming
the same day, and usually at the same time, as their original
broadcast on the main linear
HBO channel. Apple's App Store features
promotions offering free one-month trials or other incentives to
HBO Now, as the program is in partnership with Apple Inc.
and Apple TV. The number of
HBO Now subscribers reached over 2
million by February 2017.
HBO's programming schedule currently consists largely of theatrically
released feature films – which occupy the majority of its daily
schedule – and original series primarily aimed at adults (including,
as of April 2016 , dramas such as
Game of Thrones , The Leftovers and
Westworld , and comedies such as Girls ,
Ballers , Last Week
Tonight and Silicon Valley ). In addition,
HBO also carries original
made-for-TV movies, sports events and sports-centric documentary and
magazine series, documentary films, behind-the-scenes specials, and
concert and stand-up comedy specials. The network primarily airs most
of its original programs on its main channel after 8:00 p.m. Eastern
and Pacific Time, although it airs select original series and
made-for-cable movies as well as certain documentaries during the
daytime hours; these programs also air at various times on HBO's
HBO Comedy and
also each carry archived
HBO programming, airing repeats of former
original series and specials dating back to the 1990s.
HBO has long maintained a policy not to run R-rated films on its
primary channel between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific
Time; this policy (which may have once stemmed from HBO's
availability on analog cable tiers, while its multiplex channels
generally required a digital cable subscription or at least
scrambling) remains in place as of 2016 , despite the existence of the
V-chip and other premium services having incorporated R-rated films
onto their daytime schedules starting in the mid-1980s. The policy was
also applied to all TV-MA rated programs after the TV Parental
Guidelines were implemented on January 1, 1997; however the main HBO
channel began airing a limited amount of TV-MA rated original series,
movies and documentaries that contain some strong profanity and
violence, but are largely devoid of nudity, and graphic violent or
sexual content on weekends before 8:00 p.m. Eastern in 2010. However,
HBO does occasionally rebroadcast R-rated films as early as 6:00 p.m.
Eastern Time as part of its Sunday rebroadcast of the prior Saturday's
movie premiere telecast, depending on the length of the film and the
scheduling of any
HBO original series that air after it.
HBO Family, which does not run any programs with either a
TV-MA or R rating, HBO's other multiplex channels will air TV-MA and
R-rated programming during morning and afternoon time periods. HBO
also does not typically allow most NC-17 rated films to be aired on
the primary channel or its multiplex channels.
HBO pioneered the free preview concept – which has since become a
standard in the pay television industry – in 1973, as part of a plan
to increase subscribership of the channel. Cable providers were
originally granted permission to carry
HBO on a local origination
channel in order for those who are not subscribers the ability to view
the channel for a limited number of days; with the advent of digital
cable and satellite, providers now unencrypt the designated slots of
HBO channel during preview periods. Until the mid-1990s, on-air
promotions featured between programs were replaced (and later, merely
interspersed) with interstitials featuring on-air hosts asking viewers
to subscribe to the service. Although participation was voluntary,
preview events are carried by most major and some smaller pay
television providers (the number of providers and the providers that
choose to offer the event varies depending on the given free preview
period, and may not be carried on all systems owned by a multiple
system operator unless at the provider's discretion);
offers between three and five preview events each year to
participating providers (which are normally scheduled to coincide with
the premiere of a new or returning original series, and in the past, a
high-profile special or feature film).
The network also produces short segments promoting new movies with
the cooperation of the film studios that hold releasing rights to the
projects. These usually consist of either interstitial segments
providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of an
upcoming/recently released film, with interviews with the actors and
principal crew, or red carpet coverage, which are almost universally
produced by studios with which
Cinemax maintain exclusive
premium television broadcast rights. Depending on their length or
content, these are either aired as part of the feature segment HBO
News (formerly titled
Entertainment News from 1988 to 2007), which
airs during extended promotional breaks between programs and runs
between three and five minutes, or as part of
HBO First Look, a series
of documentary-style interstitial specials (usually running 15 to 20
minutes in length, with no set schedule) that debuted in 1992. These
segments, particularly episodes of First Look, have also often been
included as bonus features on
DVD and Blu-ray releases of the films
that were profiled (many of which have aired on
they reached their pay-cable distribution windows), though broadcasts
of these interstitials have begun to be reduced to only a few episodes
per year as
HBO has focused on its higher-profile, long-form original
programming instead and studios have internally produced
behind-the-scenes featurettes for their films for exclusive physical
and digital media release.
During the "Executive Actions" symposium held by The Washington Post
George Washington University
George Washington University in April 2015 (shortly after the
launch of the
HBO Now streaming service),
Richard Plepler said
that he does not want the network to be akin to
Netflix in which users
"binge watch " its television shows and film content, saying "I don't
think it would have been a great thing for
HBO or our brand if that
had been gobbled up in the first week I think it was very exciting for
the viewer to have that mystery held out for an extended period of
time." Pleper cited that he feels that binge watching does not
correlate with the culture of
List of programs broadcast by HBO
Since the early 1980s,
HBO has produced original programming, which
include dramatic and comedic series, in addition to its slate of
theatrical films. Most of these shows are intended for adults (and,
with limited exceptions, are typically assigned TV-MA ratings ), often
featuring high amounts of profanity, violence, sexual themes and/or
nudity that would be much more difficult to get on basic cable or
over-the-air broadcast channels, out of fear of losing sponsors.
However some of its original programs, primarily those produced before
2001, have also been aimed at families or children; most of these type
of programs have migrated to
HBO Family, though
HBO has produced very
few newer family-oriented series for either channel since that point.
In a notable example,
HBO ventured back into children's programming
with its acquisition of the first-run and streaming rights to Sesame
Street, a long-running children's television series that had
previously aired on
PBS for the vast majority of its run, in the
aforementioned deal with
Sesame Workshop that was announced in August
In addition to maintaining rights to films from various distributors,
HBO also produces its own made-for-cable movies through
HBO Films ;
the film division, originally named
HBO Pictures, began producing
original movies for the network in 1983 with the debut of The Terry
Fox Story. Unlike most television films produced for cable television,
most of the original movies produced by
HBO have featured major film
actors over the years, ranging from
James Stewart to
Michael Douglas .
The channel also produces stand-up comedy specials, which were
formerly broadcast under the On Location ,
HBO Comedy Hour and HBO
Comedy Half-Hour banners, which periodically premiere on certain
Saturday nights when a boxing match or movie is not scheduled during
the late prime time slots.
One of HBO's first successful specials was The Bette Midler Show in
1976, which launched the Standing Room Only concert series. For a time
in the early 1980s,
HBO produced a concert special almost every other
month, featuring major music stars such as
Boy George and
The Who .
MTV 's successful rollout in 1981, the Standing Room Only series
began to produce fewer concerts, but focused more on "world class"
music events featuring artists such as
Elton John ,
Tina Turner and
Barbra Streisand , as well as fundraisers such as
Farm Aid . The On
Location comedy specials, which presented a stand-up comedian's
performance in its entirety and uncut, began in 1975 with a special
Robert Klein . The first of twelve concert specials televised
by the network featuring
George Carlin aired on
HBO in 1977 as part of
On Location, featuring Carlin's first televised performance of his
classic routine, "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television ".
As other cable channels incorporated comedy specials due to their
HBO began to model its strategy with its comedy
specials after its music programming, focusing on a few specials each
year featuring popular comedians.
As of May 2016 ,
HBO – as well as its sister channel
maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with network
Entertainment (including content from
Warner Bros. Animation ,
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema since 2005, and
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox since 1979 (including
content from subsidiaries
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation , Blue Sky
Studios , New Regency Productions , and
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures ),
Universal Studios since 2003 (including content from subsidiaries
Universal Animation Studios ,
Working Title Films , Illumination
Focus Features ), Summit
Entertainment since 2013,
DreamWorks since 1996 (excluding films that DreamWorks
co-produces in conjunction with
Touchstone Pictures , with rights to
live action co-productions by the two studios being held by Showtime).
The first-run film output agreement with Fox was renewed by
ten years on August 15, 2012 (with a provision allowing the studio to
release its films through digital platforms such as iTunes and Amazon
during a film's term of license with the channel for the first time),
and the Universal output deal was renewed for ten years on January 6,
2013 (with the exception of certain animated films that
HBO can offer
to pass over to the
Netflix streaming service). The first-run output
deal with Summit
Entertainment was renewed by
HBO for an additional
four years on March 1, 2016. Since 2008,
HBO also holds exclusive pay
cable rights to its own in-house theatrical films made through HBO
HBO also shows sub-runs – runs of films that have already received
broadcast or syndicated television airings – of theatrical films
Paramount Pictures (including content from subsidiary Republic
Pictures , both for films released prior to 2003), Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures (including content from subsidiaries Walt Disney
Pictures , Touchstone Pictures,
Hollywood Pictures , and former
subsidiary and current independently operated studio
Miramax Films ),
Entertainment (including content from subsidiaries
Columbia Pictures ,
Sony Pictures Classics ,
Screen Gems and former
HBO sister company
TriStar Pictures , all for films released prior to
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (including content from subsidiaries United
Orion Pictures and
The Samuel Goldwyn Company ), and Lions
Entertainment (for films released prior to 2004).
Films to which
HBO holds the pay cable rights will usually also run
Cinemax during their licensing term, although some feature films
from the aforementioned studios that the two channels have broadcast
rights to will make their premium television debut on
weeks before their premiere on
Cinemax and vice versa.
Former First-run Contracts
During the early years of premium cable, it was not uncommon for
multiple pay television services, including HBO, Showtime and The
Movie Channel (and later, Cinemax), to hold broadcast rights to the
same feature films.
HBO began purchasing exclusive rights to broadcast
select individual films in the late 1970s; these gradually expanded to
exclusive output deals (which are commonplace with North American
premium channels to this day), in which a pay service enters into a
licensing agreement to broadcast movies from a particular film studio
over a period of years.
HBO signed its first major exclusive film
output deal with
Columbia Pictures in the early 1980s. During the
HBO also held rights to films from
TriStar Pictures (whose
output deal with HBO, as well as that with Columbia Pictures, expired
after 2004) and Orion Pictures; as of February 2013, rival premium
Starz has an exclusive deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment,
and is the rightsholder to all newer films from Columbia and TriStar.
Films released by
Paramount Pictures between mid-1988 and late 1997
were broadcast on HBO; rival premium channel Showtime assumed pay
television rights to Paramount-released films in 1998, and held them
until 2008, with the rights being turned over to upstart pay service
Epix (which Paramount and its corporate parent
Viacom partially owns)
the following year.
HBO relinquished its deal with DreamWorks
Pictures to broadcast its live-action films at the end of 2010, when
the distribution rights shifted from
Paramount Pictures to Touchstone
Pictures (whose films are broadcast by Showtime through a distribution
agreement with the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group). HBO's contract
DreamWorks Animation expired after 2012, at which time Netflix
assumed pay television rights to that studio's releases.
HBO broadcasts a limited amount of sports programming as well as
sports-related discussion and documentary series produced by the
HBO Sports division;
HBO – through its parent holding
company Home Box Office Inc. – also operates
HBO PPV (formerly
TVKO), which serves as a distributor of major boxing events for
HBO's first sports broadcast was of a New York Rangers-Vancouver
Canucks NHL game, transmitted to a
Service Electric cable system in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on November 8, 1972; the channel continued
to air select NHL hockey games through the mid-1970s.
HBO has long
been known for its telecasts of boxing matches (which usually air on
Saturday nights every two to three weeks on average), including those
shown on its flagship sports program
HBO World Championship Boxing. On
September 30, 1975, the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between
Muhammad Ali and
Joe Frazier aired on
HBO and was the first program on
the pay cable network to be broadcast via satellite. That same year ,
HBO began airing coverage of Wimbledon ; it held contractual rights to
coverage of the tennis tournament through 1999 , when it lost the
rights to sister network TNT (owned by Time Warner's Turner
Broadcasting System subsidiary).
HBO aired a World Wide Wrestling Federation event from
Madison Square Garden , headlined by a match between
George Steele and
Pedro Morales . During the mid-1970s,
HBO aired several basketball
games from the
National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association and the American
Basketball Association (notably, the last ABA Finals game in 1976,
prior to the latter league's merger with the NBA, between the New York
Nets and the
Denver Nuggets ).
HBO also aired Professional Bowlers
Association (PBA) events during the 1970s;
Dick Stockton served as the
play-by-play announcer and Skee Foremsky acted as the color
commentator for the bowling telecasts.
HBO premiered the channel's longest-running program, and its
first sports-related documentary and analysis series
Inside the NFL ,
featuring game reviews of
National Football League
National Football League games from the
previous week of the league season as well as interviews with players,
coaches and team management;
HBO canceled the program in February 2008
after 30 seasons (the program was later acquired by rival premium
channel Showtime, which began airing the series in September 2008).
HBO expanded its boxing slate in September 1996, with the launch of
Boxing After Dark, a program which showcases fights from up-and-coming
The network would build upon
Inside the NFL with debut of additional
sports talk and documentary programs:
Race for the Pennant (concerning
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball season, running from 1978 to 1992), Real
Sports with Bryant Gumbel (which debuted in 1998), On the Record with
Bob Costas (which debuted in 2001, and was revamped as
Costas Now in
2005, ending in 2009), and
Joe Buck Live (which ran for one season in
2009). In 2001,
NFL Films began to jointly produce the
documentary series Hard Knocks , which follows an individual NFL team
each season during training camp and their preparations for the
upcoming football season.
HBO Sports has been headed by several well-known television
executives over the years, including its founder Steve Powell (later
head of programming at
ESPN ), Dave Meister (later head of the Tennis
Channel ), Seth Abraham (later head of MSG Network ), and Ross
Alexandra Pelosi and former New Jersey Governor Jim
McGreevey at the New York City premiere of Pelosi's
about McGreevey, Fall to Grace , in March 2013.
Many of HBO's documentary series appear under the America Undercover
brand, the regular features of which have been
Real Sex (a late night
magazine-formatted series of specials that ran from 1992 to 2009,
which frankly explored a variety of mainstream and non-mainstream
sexual matters ) and Autopsy . One of the most notable America
Undercover specials was 1985's Soldiers in Hiding, focusing on
homeless veterans of the
Vietnam War living in the wilderness, which
won the first
Academy Award for a cable television service in the Best
Documentary category (although
HBO has had some of its documentaries
enter limited theatrical release to qualify for Oscar nominations in
HBO is also noted for its Sports of the 20th Century
documentary brand. One of its most recent documentaries was Dare to
Dream, about the U.S. Women\'s Soccer Team and their effort to make a
difference, and featured
Mia Hamm ,
Kristine Lilly ,
Brandi Chastain ,
Joy Fawcett and
Julie Foudy .
HBO's first successful documentary aired in 1979, the six-part series
Time Was , which featured host
Dick Cavett being inserted into seminal
events occurring between the 1920s and the 1970s. 1981's She's
Nobody's Baby, produced by Ms. magazine, was another well-known
documentary tracing the evolution in the societal role of American
women during the 20th Century; the special earned
HBO the first
Peabody Award won by a pay television service. Since then, the
network has brought home numerous Peabody Awards for its documentary
HBO had also broadcast informational documentaries produced in
Consumer Reports starting in 1980, focusing on
subjects from product safety to finance to health. One such
documentary, AIDS: Everything You and Your Family Need to Know…But
Were Afraid to Ask, which aired in 1987 at the height of the AIDS
epidemic in the U.S., provided factual information on
AIDS and HIV and
was hosted by then-Surgeon General
C. Everett Koop .
In 2004, guided by human rights activist
Ansar Burney , an
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel used a hidden camera to document
slavery and torture in secret desert camps where boys under the age of
five were trained to race camels , a national sport in the United Arab
Emirates (UAE). This half-hour investigative report exposed a
carefully hidden child slavery ring that bought or kidnapped hundreds
of young boys in Pakistan and Bangladesh, who were then forced to
become camel jockeys in the UAE. The report also questioned the
sincerity of U.S. diplomacy in pressuring the UAE, an ally to the
United States, to comply with its own stated policy of banning the use
of children under 15 from camel racing. The documentary won a Sports
Emmy Award in 2004 for "Outstanding Sports Journalism" and the 2006
Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for "Outstanding
Broadcast Journalism". It also brought worldwide attention to the
plight of child camel jockeys in the Middle East and helped the Ansar
Burney Trust to convince the governments of
Qatar and the UAE to end
the use of children in the sport.
In 2006, film director
Spike Lee made a two-part four-hour
Hurricane Katrina called When the Levees Broke: A
Requiem in Four Acts . Also in 2006, documentary artist Lauren
Greenfield directed a feature-length film about four young women
struggling with eating disorders seeking treatment at the Renfrew
Clinic in Florida, called Thin . 2008 saw the U.S. television premiere
Baghdad High , a documentary that depicted the lives of four boys
attending a high school in
Iraq , over the course of one
year in the form of a video diary that was filmed by the boys
themselves, who were given video cameras for the project.
In November 2008,
HBO paid low seven figures for U.S. television
rights to Amy Rice and Alicia Sams's documentary, By the People: The
Barack Obama . The film covers Obama's 2006 trip to
Africa, his presidential primary campaign, the 2008 general election
and his inauguration . The documentary received theatrical release in
New York City and Los Angeles, and aired on
HBO in November 2009.
In November 2012,
HBO aired a four-part documentary titled Witness,
each part of which is devoted to covering photojournalists in four
conflict regions: Juarez ,
South Sudan and
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro .
On March 28, 2013, the channel premiered the Alexandra Pelosi
-directed documentary Fall to Grace , about former New Jersey Governor
Jim McGreevey , who resigned from the post in 2011 following the
revelation of an infidelity scandal that led McGreevey to come out as
gay . On April 10, 2013,
HBO aired 50 Children: The Rescue Mission
of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, a documentary about the story of Gilbert and
Eleanor Kraus, a Jewish couple from
Philadelphia who traveled to Nazi
Germany in 1939 and, with the help of the B\'rith Sholom fraternal
organization, saved Jewish children in
Vienna from likely death in The
Holocaust by finding them new homes in Philadelphia. In April 2013,
the channel aired the documentary
An Apology to Elephants , about the
purported abuse and brutal treatment of elephants.
In addition to its linear television channels,
HBO has entered into
In April 1979,
HBO launched its first attempt at a spin-off service,
Take 2. Designed as a family-oriented mini-pay service, Take 2 was
essentially formatted as an alternative to HBO, without any R-rated
program content. The channel was ultimately deemed a major failure due
to low subscribership and limited carriage by cable providers, and
ceased operations late that summer.
HBO management analysized the
mistakes that led to Take 2's downfall, which would result in the
development of the network's second and more successful attempt at a
secondary pay service, the movie-focused Cinemax, which launched on
August 1, 1980.
Logo of HBO's early family-friendly service Festival
Example of Festival's monthly guide provided to subscribers (January
HBO launched the premium channel FESTIVAL, a separate
service that was distinctively programmed to provide family-friendly
fare, which featured classic and recent hit movies, as well as HBO's
original specials (which were branded when broadcast on the channel
under the banner "Centerstage", which featured stand-up comedy,
concert specials and ice skating shows) and documentaries.
Festival, whose on-air slogan was Quality
Entertainment You Welcome
Home, had also broadcast collections of feature films featuring a
particular movie star (known as "Star Salutes"). What differed
HBO was that the former channel was programmed as a
family-oriented service. Atypical for a premium service, Festival
featured edited versions of R-rated movies that were recut in order to
fit a PG rating and allowed only high-quality series, specials and
movies to be broadcast on the channel's schedule.
As Festival was designed as a mini-pay premium service (formatted
similarly to Take 2 before it), the cost of a monthly subscription of
the channel was also priced lower than that of
HBO and Cinemax.
Festival provided its subscribers with a color 20-page monthly program
guide. Like HBO, Festival also ran occasional free preview periods,
such as the October 30 to November 2, 1987 preview hosted by Tony
Randall . However, the channel suffered from insufficient cable
carriage as only a few providers carried Festival; as such, it could
not compete with then-fellow premium service The
Disney Channel ,
which also maintained a family-oriented programming format (that
service would convert into a basic cable channel in April 1997).
Festival would eventually shut down in late 1988.
The Comedy Channel / Comedy Central
The Comedy Channel (United States) and
HBO created The Comedy Channel, a basic cable channel that
featured clips excerpted from stand-up comedy sets, comedic feature
films and television series (using a programming model similar to the
original format of MTV), which launched on November 15 of that year.
The channel competed with another startup comedy-oriented cable
channel that debuted the following year, Viacom-owned Ha!: The TV
Comedy Network , which focused on reruns of older network sitcoms.
Both channels suffered from insufficient cable carriage (both Ha! and
The Comedy Channel each had fewer than 10 million subscribers). This
HBO reaching an agreement to merge Ha! and The
Comedy Channel into a single channel called CTV: The Comedy Network,
which debuted on April 1, 1991; the channel subsequently changed its
name three months later to
Comedy Central due to confusion and
potential legal issues with Canadian broadcaster, the CTV Television
Network . Time Warner/
HBO exited the venture when
Viacom bought out
its 50% stake in
Comedy Central for $1.23 billion in April 2003.
TELEVISION AND FILM PRODUCTION
HBO formed the production company
HBO Independent Productions in
1990, which mainly served to produce sitcoms for broadcast television
and basic cable (which included series such as Martin , Roc , The Ben
Stiller Show and
Everybody Loves Raymond ).
was formed one year later, producing comedy specials for HBO, as well
as program content for
Comedy Central (such as Politically Incorrect
with Bill Maher and
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist ).
HBO also operates
HBO Films, which was established in 1999 as a
reconfiguration and consolidation of two separate movie divisions
operated by Home Box Office Inc.,
HBO NYC Productions and HBO
HBO also operated another film division called
which began operations in 1986; it was shut down in 1996 and was
HBO NYC Productions.
HBO also participated in a number of joint ventures in film
* In 1982,
HBO entered into a joint venture with Columbia Pictures
CBS Theatrical Films to form Tri-Star Pictures (the hyphen was
dropped from the name in 1991), in order to pool resources to split
the ever-growing costs of making feature films. Tri-Star's first
production, The Natural , was released in 1984.
CBS sold its ownership
stake in the studio in November 1985. In April 1987, Tri-Star entered
into the television production business with the formation of Tri-Star
HBO relinquished its stake in Tri-Star that December,
Columbia Pictures buying its venture shares and merging Columbia
and Tri-Star into
Columbia Pictures Entertainment. As of 2015, TriStar
operates as a production arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
* In 1983,
HBO entered into a limited partnership with
Thorn EMI to
Silver Screen Partners , which was the first LP of its kind
that was developed for the purpose of financing the production of
feature films. The studio only released seven films between 1983 and
1986, most of which were not commercial or critical successes, with
the minor exception of the 1985 comedy film Volunteers .
* In 1993,
HBO invested in upstart film production company Savoy
Pictures (co-founded by Victor A. Kaufman and Lewis J. Korman). The
studio held investments in other properties including Savoy
Broadcasting, a minority-owned communications firm, that evolved into
SF Broadcasting (which was operated in a joint venture with the Fox
Broadcasting Company , and affiliated its four stations with that
network between September 1995 and January 1996).
Savoy Pictures was
unable to experience success with any of its feature film releases,
and eventually folded in 1997.
* In 2005,
HBO Films and
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema formed Picturehouse , a
worldwide theatrical distribution company for high-quality independent
films . The company was shut down in 2008 as part of the consolidation
of New Line with its sister studio
Warner Bros. Entertainment
(Picturehouse CEO Bob Berney would later resurrect the studio as an
independent entity from Time Warner).
As objections to the advent of home video from factions of the
entertainment industry began to die down, in November 1984, HBO
partnered with independent film distributor
Thorn EMI to form Thorn
Thorn EMI cut various distribution agreements with
smaller film production companies that did not have their own home
video units, such as
Orion Pictures and New Line Cinema. In 1986,
Cannon Films bought out Thorn EMI's interest in the unit, which was
accordingly renamed HBO/Cannon Video. Cannon dropped out of the
venture by 1987 after the studio took a financial hit following its
attempt at a series of larger budget films that did not experience box
office success; the unit was then renamed
HBO Video. Over time, HBO
Video (which eventually became
Entertainment by the early
2010s , with physical product manufactured by
Warner Home Video )
shifted away from releasing films from independent studios to
releasing HBO's catalog of original programs and films on
Various products have been marketed that have used the
and/or are based around the channel's programming. In 2005, HBO
entered into an agreement with Cingular Wireless to establish HBO
Mobile, a pre-smartphone era mobile web service. Operating as a pay
service (a model similar to that used by the channel itself), HBO
Mobile featured information on HBO's original programming (including
episode guides), mobile wallpapers and ringtones voiced by cast
members of the channel's series (
HBO Mobile also operated a similar
HBO Family Mobile, which offered full-length episodes of the
channel's children's programming). That same year,
Screenlife released a version of the
DVD interactive game
Scene It? ,
featuring trivia relating to HBO's original series.
HBO launched in 1972, its original logo was merely consisted of
the "Home Box Office" name and a ticket stub surrounded by a lighted
marquee . The original version of its current logo (designed by Bemis
Balkind) was introduced in 1975, using an uppercase bold "HBO" text
with a circle inside the 'O', which in turn cuts into the 'B'. The
logo was modified in 1980 (although it did not completely replace the
original version until 1981), with the 'B' and the 'O' becoming full
letterforms, albeit continuing to be attached to each other. The
simplicity of the logo makes it fairly easy to duplicate, something
HBO has taken advantage of many times over the years. Glossed
variant of current
HBO logo, used since July 5, 2014.
The logo became iconic due to a program opening sequence produced in
1981 by New York City production firm
Liberty Studios , nicknamed "HBO
in Space", which was used from September 20, 1982 to September 30,
1997. The original full version begins with a window shot of a family
(or alternately, a married couple) in an apartment sitting down to
HBO on their television set (which was replaced by a cloudscape
that faded into the city sequence in December 1983), which transitions
to a fly-through over a constructed model cityscape and countryside. A
starburst – or "stargate effect" – then occurs following a pan
towards a star-filled sky (which begins a shorter version of the
sequence), unveiling a chrome-plated
HBO logo that flies and rotates
into view; colored light beams encircle the side of the "O", then
flash to a partially animated sequence featuring more lights racing
counter-clockwise in its interior on a silver axis, revealing "HBO
Feature Presentation" or another program type (such as "Standing Room
HBO Special" or "On Location") in block text, before
additional beams sweep across the text and shine, with more flashing
into a fade to black. Most variants of this sequence were discontinued
in 1986, except for the feature presentation (which was relegated to
use only for the main prime time film), "Saturday Night Movie" and
"Sunday Night Movie" variants (the latter two of which were
discontinued in 1993). Many versions of the intro are available on
YouTube , including one uploaded to HBO's official
The accompanying fanfare – originally composed for Score Productions
by Ferdinand Jay Smith III of
Jay Advertising , who adapted the theme
from the Scherzo movement of
Antonín Dvořák 's Ninth Symphony –
has become a musical signature for HBO, and has been used in feature
presentation, upcoming program and evening schedule bumpers, and
network IDs since 1998 with various arrangements from horns to piano
being used over the years.
HBO program opener, "Neon Lights", began movies
airing outside of primetime from November 1, 1986, to September 30,
1997. The sequence, set to a synth and electric guitar theme, begins
with a purple
HBO logo on a film strip with blue, green and pink light
rays shooting through it as the strip rotates out of view; the lights
shoot through several glowing CG slots until a flash of light hits a
field of spheres in varying colors, which zoom out to form a light
HBO logo overlaid by a cursive magenta "Movie" script against a
black background with rows of light purple spheres. From 1997 to
HBO used several feature presentation bumpers designed by
Pittard Sullivan featuring the network logo in different situations
(such as a fish in water, a celebrity in a limousine , a large HBO
logo chasing a man and a neon
HBO logo on the rooftop of a building);
these sequences were also used by the network as IDs from 1997 to
2002, and in upcoming program and evening schedule bumpers until 2000.
From September 1999 to April 1, 2011,
HBO used a Pittard
Sullivan-designed CGI feature presentation bumper sequence that
features a flyover similar to the 1982 sequence, starting with the
front of a movie theater featuring a marquee that reads "
Presentation", and trekking through a country road, a snowy mountain
road near a cliff and a desert road (respectively passing under a
tower, tunnel and tanker truck shaped in the individual letters of the
HBO logotype); this leads into a road in an urban neighborhood (with
skyscrapers visible in the background) that becomes a bridge upon the
city's downtown area, and lead to a slowing flyover toward and pan
HBO logo-shaped lake that starts with several spotlights
rapidly turning on and ends with a 3D animation of the "Feature
Presentation" text. The closing animation that is seen both in the
full version as well as a shorter version of the sequence (seen
outside of weekend prime time films and Saturday film premieres, when
the longer sequence was used).
The sequence was replaced on April 2, 2011 – as part of a new
graphics package implemented on that date across the
channels – by a much shorter opening sequence designed by Jesse
Vartanian (who also designed CGI teaser commercials for HBO's premiere
telecast of the 2010 film Avatar ), consisting only of a dark
background with faint light auroras around the
HBO logo and a simple
"Feature Presentation" text animation, accompanied by soft orchestral
Another new opening sequence, done by Imaginary Forces, was
implemented on March 4, 2017. The current intro combines live-action
and CGI while also paying homage to the original 1982 sequence (to the
point that the latter can be seen during the new intro).
Unlike other pay television networks (including the multiplex
channels of sister channel Cinemax),
HBO does not brand its
programming with on-screen logo bugs of the main network and each
respective multiplex channel – although its multiplex channels do
display logo bugs during promotional breaks between programs.
* NOVEMBER 1972–AUGUST 1975: "This is HBO, the Home Box Office.
Premium Subscription Television from Time-Life."
* AUGUST 1975–JUNE 1976: "Different and First"
* JUNE 1976–MAY 1978: "The Great
* MAY 1978–OCTOBER 1979: "The Home Box"
* OCTOBER 1979–MARCH 1984: "
HBO People Don't Miss Out"
* MARCH 1984–MAY 1985: "There's No Place Like HBO"
* MAY 1985–JULY 1988: "Nobody Brings It Home Like HBO"
* JULY 1988–FEBRUARY 1989: "Watch Us Here on HBO"
* NOVEMBER 1988–NOVEMBER 1991: "The Best Time on TV" (general
slogan) and "The Best Movies" (promotional slogan for movies)
* FEBRUARY 1989–JULY 1990: "Let's All Get Together"
* OCTOBER 1989–NOVEMBER 1990: "Simply The Best" ("The Best " by
Tina Turner was used as the image theme)
* NOVEMBER 1991–OCTOBER 1993: "We're HBO"
* OCTOBER 1993–SEPTEMBER 1995: "Just You Wait"
* SEPTEMBER 1995–OCTOBER 1996: "Something Special's On"
* OCTOBER 1996–APRIL 2009: "It's Not TV. It's HBO."
* 2006–2009: "Get More" (slogan for the
* APRIL 2009–PRESENT: "It's More Than You Imagined. It's HBO."
* 2010–2011: "This is HBO." (only used for IDs)
* 2011–PRESENT: "It's HBO."
* 2014–2017: "So Original"
* 2017–PRESENT: "It’s What Connects Us"
HBO has overseen a number of partnerships that operate
HBO-branded television networks around the world. As the network was
launched in new markets, the
HBO brand has been used in several
HBO has established channels in various countries worldwide
including Brazil, Canada, Eastern Europe , India, Mexico, Pakistan,
the Caribbean , and Southeast Asia.
HBO also licenses its programming to air on certain other broadcast,
cable channels and
Video on demand services outside the United States,
Sky Atlantic , which is available within the Republic of Ireland,
Austria, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Malta, San Marino and
Ziggo Movies padding:0.4em 2em">
* USA portal
* Films portal
* Companies portal
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