Home Box Office (HBO)
HBO logo.svg
Launched November 8, 1972
Owned by Home Box Office Inc.
Time-Life (1972-1989)
Time Warner (1989-)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Slogan It's HBO.
Country United States
Broadcast area Nationwide
Headquarters New York, NY
Sister channel(s) Cinemax
HBO Latino (Spanish)
HBO Family
DirecTV 501 HBO (east) (SD/HD)
502 HBO2 (east) (SD/HD)
503 HBO Signature (SD/HD)
504 HBO (west) (SD/HD)
505 HBO2 (west) (SD/HD)
506 HBO Comedy (HD)
507 HBO Family (east) (SD/HD)
508 HBO Family (west)
509 HBO Zone (HD)
511 HBO Latino (SD/HD)
1501 HBO On Demand
Dish Network 300 HBO (east) HD
301 HBO2 (east) HD
302 HBO Signature HD
303 HBO (west) HD
304 HBO2 (west)
305 HBO Family HD
307 HBO Comedy HD
308 HBO Zone HD
309 HBO Latino HD
Available on all cable systems Check local listings for channels
Verizon FIOS 400-413 (SD)
899-913 (HD)
AT&T U-verse See AT&T U-verse channel lineup
BT Vision
(United Kingdom)
Programmes available on-demand

HBO, short for Home Box Office, is an American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner. As of March 2011, HBO's programming reaches 28.2 million subscribers in the United States, making it the second largest premium subscription channel in America (Encore's programming reaches 32.9 million subscribers as of October 2011).[1] In addition to its U.S. subscriber base, HBO also broadcasts in at least 151 countries worldwide.[2]

HBO's programming consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original series, along with made-for-cable movies and documentaries, boxing matches, and occasional stand-up comedy and concert specials.



Development and launch

In 1965 Charles Dolan, who had already done pioneering work in the commercial use of cables, won a franchise to build a cable system in Lower Manhattan in New York.[3] The new system, which Dolan called "Sterling Manhattan Cable", became the first urban underground cable system in the United States. Rather than stringing cable on telephone poles or using microwave antennas to receive the signals, Sterling laid underground cable beneath the streets of Manhattan — because the multitude of tall buildings blocked television signals. In the same year Time-Life, Inc. purchased 20 percent of Dolan's company.[4][5]

Dolan presented his "Green Channel" idea to Time-Life management, and though satellite distribution seemed only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time Life to back him. Soon afterwards, on November 8, 1972, "The Green Channel" became "Home Box Office". HBO began using a network of microwave relay towers to distribute its programming.[6][7][8] The first program and film broadcast on HBO, Sometimes a Great Notion, starred Paul Newman and Henry Fonda. It transmitted with a CATV system in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (a plaque commemorating this event is found in Wilkes-Barre's downtown Public Square).[7] HBO's first sports event was broadcast immediately afterwards, an NHL hockey game from Madison Square Garden featuring the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks.

Sterling Manhattan Cable lost money because the company had only a small subscriber base of 20,000 customers in Manhattan. Dolan's media partner, Time-Life, Inc., gained 80-percent control of Sterling and decided to pull the plug on the Sterling Manhattan operation. Time Life dropped the Sterling name to become Manhattan Cable Television and gained control of HBO in March 1973. Gerald Levin replaced Dolan as HBO's President and Chief Executive Officer. In September 1973, Time-Life, Inc. completed its acquisition of the pay service. HBO was soon the fastest growing TV pay service in America, but the churn rate was exceptionally high. Subscribers would sample the service for a few weeks, get weary of seeing the same films, and then cancel. HBO was struggling and something had to be done. When HBO first came to Lawrence, Massachusetts, the idea was to allow subscribers to preview the service for free on channel 3. After a month, the service moved to channel 6 and was scrambled. The preview proved popular, obtaining many subscriptions and the concept was used elsewhere.

National expansion, innovation and rise to prominence (1975–1996)

The RCA Satcom domestic communication satellite launched December 13, 1975, spurred the cable television industry to unprecedented heights with the assistance of HBO.

On September 30, 1975, HBO became the first TV network to continuously deliver signals via satellite when it showed the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing-match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.[9][6] HBO switched its domestic satellite transmissions from Westar 1 to Satcom 1 in February 1976 and by 1977 was joined by Ted Turner's Atlanta superstation WTCG-TV (soon to become WTBS) and Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (later to become the present-day ABC Family), laying the foundation for satellite delivery in the modern cable television industry.[6][10]

The network had broadcast only for nine hours a day for its first nine years on air, from 3 p.m. to midnight ET. In September 1981, HBO began broadcasting a 24-hour schedule on weekends, until midnight ET on Sunday nights. On December 28, 1981, HBO expanded its programming schedule to 24 hours a day, seven days per week (Cinemax had a 24-hour schedule from its launch, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went to a 24-hour schedule earlier). On August 1, 1980, HBO launched a companion network, Cinemax, a movie-based pay service created as HBO's answer to The Movie Channel; in its early years, Cinemax carried music specials and some limited original programming such as SCTV and Max Headroom, in addition to movies, but the network has since become known for airing softcore adult films and series during its late night schedule, and has forayed into original programming with the addition of weekly action series to its lineup in August 2011.

In 1983, HBO's first original movie and the first made-for-pay-TV movie The Terry Fox Story premiered. That year also saw the premiere of the first kids' show broadcast on the channel: Fraggle Rock; HBO continued to air various original programs aimed at children until 2001, when such programs were almost completely moved over to HBO Family.[11] HBO became involved in several legal suits during the 1980s; these involved cable systems and legal statutes imposed by state and city laws that would have censored some programming on HBO and other pay-TV networks. In January 1986, HBO also became the first satellite network to encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher II System. Four months later, HBO became a victim of broadcast signal intrusion when satellite TV dealer John R. MacDougall, a man calling himself "Captain Midnight", intercepted the network's signal during a movie presentation of The Falcon and the Snowman. The Federal Communications Commission subsequently prosecuted MacDougall.

In 1987, HBO launched a short-lived channel, Festival.[12] Festival featured classic movies and recent hit movies, along with specials and documentaries from HBO. Distinctively, Festival's programmers aimed to provide family-friendly fare. R-rated movies were edited for broadcast and no low-quality series, specials and/or movies were shown. Also, the pricing for subscribing to the channel was cheaper than HBO and Cinemax. Only a few cable systems carried Festival and the channel shut down in late 1988.[13] In 1988, HBO's userbase expanded greatly on account of the Writers Guild of America going on strike; HBO had new programming while standard television channels could only broadcast reruns. In 1989, HBO compared programming against pay-television network Showtime, with the slogan "Nobody Brings it Home Like HBO", using the Tina Turner single "The Best".[14]

When Time Inc. merged with Warner Communications in 1989, HBO became part of Time Warner (which as of 2011, continues to serve as the parent company of the network). Coincidentally, Warner Communications had created rival The Movie Channel (now owned by CBS Corporation) in the late 1970s before Viacom, which purchased a 50% stake in The Movie Channel in 1983, bought Warner's remaining half-ownership of that network in 1985.[15]

In 1991, HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexing to cable customers.[16] Providing multiple options of HBO and Cinemax instead of just single channel services, these include HBO2 (renamed HBO Plus from 1998 to 2002) and Cinemax (Cinemax 2, from 1998: MoreMax) to three cable systems in Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas. The move proved successful, resulting in HBO and Cinemax launching additional multiplex channels of its service, HBO 3 (launched in 1995, renamed HBO Signature in 1998), HBO Family (launched in 1996), HBO Comedy & HBO Zone (launched in 1999) and HBO Latino, a Latin-themed channel of HBO (launched in 2000). Cinemax also launched the multiplex services Cinemax 3 (launched in 1996, ActionMax in 1998), ThrillerMax (launched in 1998) and WMax, @Max, OuterMax and 5StarMax (all launched in 2001). In 1993, HBO became the world's first digitally transmitted television service.[citation needed], subsequently well known for its online web shows, launched in 1995.

Before 1997, HBO did know success to some extent with shows such as Tales from the Crypt, Dream On, Tracey Takes On..., Mr. Show, and Arliss. HBO did have a series that gained major success although not commercially as successful as shows on the Big Three networks and Fox the show did enjoy a cult status, critical acclaim, and did get nominated for and won many major awards.[17] This series is The Larry Sanders Show and the show is arguably HBO's flagship series during the 90's and possibly the entire HBO time period before 1997. The show is the only HBO comedy to make TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list and it was also on Time Magazine's list of 100 Best TV Shows of All Time and is ranked by various critics and fans as one of the best TV comedies of the 1990s.[18] The series ranked #38 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, the only HBO comedy to make the list.[19] It was also included in Time magazine's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."[20] Other shows which subsequently aired on HBO, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Extras, and Entourage, have used traits from the show.

Rising prominence of original programming (since 1997)

HBO has developed many original programs before and since 1997, which has earned the channel numerous Emmy awards.[21] 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 relieves HBO from some pressures to tone down controversial aspects of its programs, and allows for explicit content, such as graphic violence, sex, and profanity, to be aired.

Beginning in 1997, with its first one-hour dramatic narrative series Oz, HBO started a trend that became commonplace with premium cable providers. Although critically acclaimed, it was not until 1999, when their second one-hour narrative series The Sopranos premiered, that the network achieved both critical mass and Emmy success. In its six-season run, The Sopranos received 111 Emmy nominations, resulting in 21 wins - two of them for the Emmy for Best Drama. In 1999, HBO became the first national cable TV network to broadcast a high-definition simulcast channel. In July 2001, HBO launched the first premium subscription video-on-demand enhancement in the United States, called HBO on Demand, to Time Warner Cable subscribers in Columbia, South Carolina. A few years later in 2002, HBO launched a new show called The Wire, that although it did not defeat The Sopranos ratings wise it did however defeat it critically and academically and even more greatly further cemented HBO's reputation as being a network that produces quality programming. The series ran for five-seasons and six years.

HBO subscribers generally pay for an extra "tier" of service even before paying for the channel itself (though HBO often prices all of its channels together in a single package). However, federal law requires that a cable system allow a person to get just basic cable, local broadcast channels, Public, educational, and government access (PEG) Channels and HBO, without subscribing to expanded service.[22][23] Cable systems can require the use of a converter box (usually digital) to receive HBO.

Other networks and local syndication have re-aired several HBO programs (usually after some editing), and a number of HBO works have become available on DVD. Since HBO's more successful series, most notably Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and True Blood, go to air on non-cable networks in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and much of Europe, HBO programming has the potential of exposure to a higher percentage of the population of those countries as compared to the U.S. Because of the high cost of HBO,[citation needed] many Americans only view HBO programs on DVDs or in basic cable or broadcast syndication, months or even years after the network has first broadcast the programs, and with editing for advertising time and content, although several series have filmed alternate 'clean' scenes meant for syndication runs.[24]

As of 2011, continuing a long-held policy, the primary HBO channel still does not run R-rated films or TV-MA rated programming before 8 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific),[25] despite the existence of the V-chip and even after all of its rival premium services began including R-rated films on their daytime schedule as early as the mid-1980s. However, since 2010, a minimal amount of TV-MA rated programming, generally programs that contain some strong profanity and violence but are largely devoid of nudity, and graphic violent and/or sexual content (such as Real Time with Bill Maher), has aired on weekends during the daytime hours on the main HBO channel.[26] HBO's multiplex channels (excluding HBO Family, which does not run R-rated films or programs with a TV-MA rating at all)[27] will air TV-MA and R-rated programming during the daytime. This policy may have once stemmed from the availability of HBO on analog cable tiers (while the multiplex channels generally required digital cable or at least scrambling).


The HBO pay service consists of seven multiplex channels and a video on demand service (HBO On Demand). HBO also packages the Eastern and Pacific feeds of the main channel together, allowing viewers a second chance to watch the same movie/program three hours later/earlier — depending on their geographic location. However, some cable systems only offer the main channel (and in some cases, HBO2) in this manner.

  • HBO: The flagship service; it airs popular feature films, first-run films, boxing events and sports specials, original movies, original series, comedy specials and documentaries; also typically debuts new movies on Saturday nights. The main HBO channel will only air R-rated films and TV-MA rated programming after 8 p.m. ET/PT, but does air PG-13 rated films during the daytime hours, and a minimal amount of TV-MA rated programming has aired during the daytime hours on weekends.
  • HBO2: Secondary channel, which features more movies, series, specials and original movies. HBO2 airs R-rated films during the day, unlike the main HBO channel. Launched in 1991, the channel was renamed HBO Plus in 1998, before reverting back to the HBO2 name in 2001. In Brazil and Latin America, a local version of HBO 2 repeats all the movies that original HBO channel plays, and HBO Plus functions as a separate channel.
  • HBO Comedy: Features less-serious films and series, as well as rebroadcasts of HBO original comedy series and specials; airs R-rated films during the day, but only broadcasts adult comedy specials at night.
  • HBO Family: Features movies and series aimed at a younger audience, as well as films for the whole family; airs series aimed at preschoolers during the morning hours; with specials and G, PG and PG-13 rated films starting at or after 12:30 p.m. ET/PT.[28] Uniquely, it is one of only two HBO spin-offs with its own website, along with HBO Latino — all the others are integrated within the main HBO site. This channel will not show R-rated films or TV-MA rated programming.
  • HBO Latino: A Spanish-language version of HBO for Spanish-speaking audiences, simulcasting much of the same programming seen on the main channel. This channel airs HBO productions, including original series dubbed in Spanish, as well as Hollywood blockbusters and Spanish-language films. Also airs boxing events, including the original boxing series Boxeo De Oro.
  • HBO Signature: Features high quality films, HBO original series and specials; the channel was originally known as "HBO 3" from its 1991 launch until 1998, when the format changed completely from the similarities to HBO and HBO2 to movies, shows and specials targeted at a female audience.
  • HBO Zone: This channel airs movies and HBO original programming aimed at the 18-35-year-old demographic. Also broadcasts adult-oriented programming at night, similar to those on Cinemax's Max After Dark block, the only HBO channel that does so.


HBO provides 1080i high definition simulcast feeds of all seven of its multiplex channels. HBO HD is available on Cox Communications, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Dish Network, Xfinity (by Comcast), AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and several other major cable providers, although few providers offer all seven multiplex channels in HD.

The HBO family of networks

In 1991, HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexed services to cable customers as companions to the main network, offering multiplex services of HBO and Cinemax to three TeleCable cable systems in Overland Park, Kansas, Richardson and Plano, Texas, and Racine, Wisconsin.[29] A year later, research from A.C. Nielsen Co. showed that multiplex delivery of HBO and Cinemax had positive impact on subscriber usage and attitudes, including subscribers' retention of pay cable subscriptions.[citation needed] HBO2 was launched as a multiplex channel in 1992, launching on these three systems.

In 1995, HBO3 launched, and a year later HBO Family launched, becoming the first family-oriented multiplex service of a premium channel (Showtime, Starz and Encore have similar family-oriented multiplex channels). In April 1998 the HBO multiplex channels became collectively known as "HBO The Works", and the Cinemax channels became known as "MultiMax". Also, HBO2 and HBO3 underwent major rebrands: HBO2 was renamed HBO Plus, and HBO3 became HBO Signature (a network aimed at women). In May of the following year, HBO Comedy & HBO Zone (a network aimed at young adults) were launched[30] and in 2000, HBO Latino, a Latino-themed channel of HBO launched (HBO also offered a Spanish-language enhancement called HBO En Español, airing select HBO programs in Spanish via second audio programming (SAP), that launched in 1988). Finally in 2002, HBO Plus reverted back to its original HBO2 name.

The HBO Multiplex became collectively known under the name "HBO The Works" for several years starting in 1998, while the Cinemax channels became known as "MultiMax". As of 2009 the HBO multiplex, individually, has no "official" name. However, HBO and Cinemax's respective multiplex packages are referred collectively as the "HBO/MAX Pak".[31] Subscribers of DirecTV, Dish Network and some cable providers can get the Cinemax networks without subscribing to HBO, though most cable providers offer the two services and their respective multiplexes as a package.

HBO Family

HBO Family launched in 1996 as a family-oriented multiplex channel of HBO.[32] It was originally launched in 1990 as HBO For Kids and was rebranded under the "HBO Family" name six years later. HBO Family programming consists of educational and original programs for preschoolers from 6 a.m. to noon (Eastern and Pacific time). Programs during this time include The Road Runner Show, Kids On, Crashbox, Stuart Little, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Little Lulu Show, A Little Curious, George and Martha, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, The Adventures of Paddington Bear, HBO Storybook Musicals and others; from 12 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET, the channel's schedule consists of G, PG and PG-13 rated movies, along with some original specials. No R-rated or TV-MA rated programs are broadcast on the channel. Times may vary depending on which feed (east or west) they are provided by their satellite or cable provider.

As of 2011, HBO Family's on-air look is the same as HBO's other multiplexed channels. Prior to 2011, HBO Family's on-air look was different from HBO's other multiplexed channels. Between programs until 2007, HBO Family provided graphic text at the end of promo spots displaying the date and time for the next airdate of that program, something that the original HBO had done but now is no longer provided in this format, HBO Family now only references most programs as airing this month or the following month with typically no reference to a specific air date and time.[33] Also during the interstitial programming, viewers of HBO Family are shown interstitials aimed at families and an HBO Family ID before a movie.

HBO Latino

HBO Latino was originally launched on January 2, 1989 as Selecciones en Español de HBO y Cinemax (Spanish selections from HBO and Cinemax), as the Spanish-language service from HBO. The service was originally restricted to Spanish language broadcasts of live boxing matches which HBO has rights for (except for others, already broadcast in Spanish on Galavisión and others), first-run movies from HBO's movie suppliers dubbed into Spanish (then HBO was still owned by Time, Inc. soon to be merged with Warner Communications, to form Time Warner) and first-run Spanish-language movies (mostly from Mexico, Argentina and Spain). Selecciones en Español was renamed HBO en Español on September 27, 1993.[34] It was eventually changed to its current name, HBO Latino on October 31, 2000. HBO Latino began to broadcast HBO original series dubbed into Spanish. Beginning in 2004, however, HBO Latino began to screen original Spanish-language programming (mostly from HBO Latin America). In 2006, it began to add Portuguese language programming to its schedule. The original boxing anthology series, Boxeo de Oro has been a staple of HBO Latino since its inception in 2000.

HBO Latino largely serves as a simulcast of the main HBO channel, albeit with the alternate Spanish-language audio track (that can also be accessed on the main HBO channel, via the Secondary Audio Program function on TVs and digital cable-ready converter boxes) dubbed over the program, but with limited program substitutions and differences in network promotions featured in-between programs. HBO Family, along with HBO Latino, have the distinction of being the only HBO spin-offs with their own websites; all the others are integrated within the main HBO site. The site includes schedules and more.

Other services

HBO on Demand

HBO on Demand is the video on demand counterpart to HBO; it offers movies, original series and specials previously seen on the network. The standard definition and high definition versions of the HBO on 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 Comcast and Verizon FiOS customers who subscribe to the HBO service.[35]


On February 18, 2010, HBO launched HBO Go, a web site which features 600 hours of content available for streaming in standard or high definition. Content includes HBO original programming, movies, comedy specials, documentaries, sports, and late night adult programming.[36] It is available to HBO subscribers of Verizon FIOS, [37] AT&T U-verse, Google TV, [38] Cox Communications, Comcast, [39] DirecTV, [40] Dish Network, [41] Suddenlink Communications, [42] and Charter Communications. [43] The HBO Go iPad, iPhone, and Android app launched on April 29, 2011. [44] The app was downloaded over one million times in its first week, [45] and had over three million downloads by the end of June 2011. [46]

HBO Go is the successor to HBO on Broadband, originally launched in January 2008 to Time Warner Cable customers in Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[47][48] It featured 400 hours of movies and original series that could be downloaded to computers, at no extra charge for HBO subscribers; viewers had to be a digital cable customer who was an HBO subscriber, and used their cable company as their internet service provider. Programming included 130 movie titles that rotated monthly and top hits ranging from movies, series and specials.

On October 11, 2011, it was announced that HBO Go would be available through the Roku streaming player, though under the same requirements that a cable or satellite subscription to HBO is required. It is unknown if there are any plans to offer HBO Go on a stand alone subscription basis like some channels are offered on Roku.[49][50]


Original series

Since 1977, HBO has produced original programming, which includes dramas and comedies in addition to its slate of theatrical films. Most of these shows are rated TV-MA, and often feature suggestive themes and high amounts of profanity, violence, and nudity - content that would be much more difficult to get on basic cable or over-the-air broadcast channels, for fear of losing sponsors.


As of 2011, HBO has exclusive deals with DreamWorks Animation (which last until 2013, at which time the NetFlix streaming service will assume pay-TV rights),[51] Fox Searchlight, Universal Studios, Focus Features, and network sister companies Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. HBO also held rights to live-action films from DreamWorks Pictures, but it relinquished those rights at the end of 2010, when the distribution rights shifted from Paramount Pictures to Touchstone Pictures (whose films are broadcast by Showtime though a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group). On May 2011, HBO announced a licensing agreement with Summit Entertainment to obtain pay-cable rights to theatrically released films from the studio released between 2013 and 2017, after Summit's exclusive licensing deal with Showtime expires in late 2012. [52]

HBO also shows sub-runs (runs of films that have already received broadcast network/syndicated television releases) of theatrical films from Viacom subsidiaries Paramount Pictures and Republic Pictures, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures, Fox Searchlight (select films from all five studios are shared with Starz and Encore), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, DreamWorks Pictures, and Lionsgate. Starting in 2008 and continuing so forth, HBO also has exclusive pay-cable rights to its own in-house theatrical films made through HBO Films.

Usually films which HBO has pay-cable rights to will also run on Cinemax during its time of license, although some feature films from the aforementioned studios that HBO and Cinemax have broadcast rights to will make their premium television debut on Cinemax several weeks before its premiere on HBO.


As previously mentioned, HBO's first sports broadcast was of a New York Rangers / Vancouver Canucks game, transmitted to a CATV system in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on November 8, 1972. HBO is known for its boxing match-ups including those shown on HBO World Championship Boxing. In 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 air via satellite. Also in 1975, HBO began airing coverage of Wimbledon and did so until 1999. Coverage then moved to sister network TNT and later to ESPN2.

In 1973, HBO aired a World Wide Wrestling Federation event from Madison Square Garden, headlined by George Steele facing Pedro Morales. The event has aired as part of the WWE 24/7 on-demand service. During the mid-1970s, HBO aired several NBA and ABA basketball games (notably, the last ABA Final in 1976, between the New York Nets and Denver Nuggets) as well as some NHL hockey games. HBO Sports also aired PBA bowling events during the 1970s. Dick Stockton was the play-by-play announcer and Skee Foremsky was the color commentator.[53]

In 1977, HBO launched Inside the NFL, the channel's longest-running program, but cancelled it in February 2008, with rival pay TV network Showtime picking up the series starting in September 2008. HBO launched Boxing After Dark in 1996, showcasing some of boxing's newest talents. HBO currently operates HBO PPV (formerly TVKO) to broadcast boxing matches to pay-per-view subscribers.

In 2001, HBO hired Bob Costas to host a 12-episode sports show called On the Record with Bob Costas. A revamped version of On the Record began in 2005, Costas Now, which ended its run in 2009. Both shows are very similar to another HBO sports show called Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that currently runs on the network. The channel debuted another sports show Joe Buck Live, hosted by longtime baseball commentator Joe Buck in 2009. HBO and NFL Films have also jointly produced Hard Knocks, which follows a team in training camp and their preparations for the upcoming NFL season. The series, which first premiered in 2001, returned in August 2009 to document the Cincinnati Bengals.[54]

HBO Sports has been headed by several well-known television executives over the years, including Steve Powell (later head of Programming at ESPN), Dave Meister (later head of The Tennis Channel), Seth Abraham (later head of Madison Square Garden Sports) and Ross Greenburg.


Many of HBO's documentary series appear under the America Undercover brand. Among the regular AU features are Real Sex and Autopsy.

In 2004, guided by human rights activist Ansar Burney, an HBO team for 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. These boys were then forced to become camel jockeys in the UAE. The report also questioned the sincerity of U.S. diplomacy in pressuring an ally, the UAE, 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 world attention to the plight of child camel jockeys in the Middle East and helped Ansar Burney Trust to convince the governments of Qatar and the UAE to end the use of children in this sport.

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. This documentary featured Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, and Julie Foudy.

In 2006, film director Spike Lee made a four-hour documentary on Hurricane Katrina called When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which was broken up into two parts. Also in 2006, documentary artist Lauren Greenfield directed a feature length film about four young women struggling with eating disorders in the Renfrew Clinic in Florida, called Thin. 2008 saw the US television premiere of the documentary film Baghdad High, which depicted the lives of four boys attending a high school in Baghdad, Iraq, over the course of one year in the form of a video diary. The documentary was filmed by the boys themselves, who were given video cameras for the project.[55]

In November 2008, HBO paid low seven figures for U.S. TV rights to Amy Rice and Alicia Sams's documentary, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama. It covers Obama's 2006 trip to Africa, his presidential primary campaign, the 2008 general election and his inauguration. The documentary has been released to theatres in New York and Los Angeles and aired in November 2009.[56]


When the network launched in 1972, HBO's logo featured the channel's full name "HOME BOX OFFICE" and a ticket stub surrounded by a marquee light design. In 1975, it began using an uppercase 'HBO' with a circle inside the 'O'; however for the first few years, the logo featured the 'O' cutting into the 'B'. The logo was modified in 1980 (not completely replacing the original until 1981) when HBO started using the current version of the logo with the 'B' and the 'O' still attached to each other but with the 'O' no longer intercutting the 'B'. The simplicity of the logo makes it fairly easy to duplicate, something HBO has taken advantage of many times over the years. The logo became iconic due to what is perhaps the network's most famous program-opening sequence, "HBO in Space", used from 1982 until 1997, and produced by Liberty Studios of New York City in 1982 and debuted on the network later that year.[57] The original full version begins with a look in a window at a family (sometimes only a husband and wife) sitting down to watch TV, with their cable box and/or TV tuned to HBO (that part was later replaced with a cloudscape). It then pans and flies through a cityscape and into the countryside and then moves up into outer space, where a starburst appears and the HBO logo (in starship form) appears and rotates toward the camera before multi-colored beams move around the "O" and take the camera inside it, where the type of program is revealed (generally the feature presentation). For many years, HBO also used a shortened version of this opening sequence which began with a fade in to show the starry night sky. The starburst (or stargate effect) occurs, and the logo flies towards you as in the regular opening. Several versions of the intro appear on YouTube, including one posted by HBO's official YouTube channel.[58] The accompanying fanfare, originally composed by Ferdinand Jay Smith III of Jay Advertising for Score Productions, has been re-orchestrated several times over the years, with arrangements from the traditional horns to piano. The current feature presentation bumper still uses a modified version of this theme.

Another famous HBO ID, "Neon Lights," designated non-8 p.m. movies from December 1986 to 1997. The sequence, set to an electric guitar theme, begins with a purple HBO logo on a vertical filmstrip as light rays shoot through it; the camera then pans around several CG slots glowing in blue, green and pink until a light flash hits several spheres glowing in various rainbow colors. The spheres zoom out forming the HBO logo in light purple with "Movie" written in cursive in magenta with the rainbow spheres on a black background behind the words.[59]

Between 1997 and 1999 HBO used several "Feature Presentation" opens which showed the HBO logo in different situations, such as a fish in water, a celebrity in a limo, a large HBO logo chasing a man, and on the rooftop of a building.

The next HBO "Feature Presentation" bumper used from 1999 until April 1, 2011 also used CGI graphics. The version seen every day featured the camera flying over ground as spotlights rapidly turn on, one by one. The camera suddenly slows, begins to face the "ground" and reveals a HBO logo-shaped lake, and the words "Feature Presentation" appear one by one, in 3D. The full version, only seen during Saturday night movie premieres, began on a city street, showing a movie theater marquee which reads "HBO FEATURE PRESENTATION" in all caps. The camera zooms into a box office booth and then flashes, changes scenery and zooms through a country road passing under a "H"-shaped tower, then a snowy mountain road jumping over a drop-down cliff, and goes through a "B"-shaped tunnel on the other side, then rapidly coming upon a desert road catching up to a "O"-shaped tanker truck. It then appears in a urban neighborhood with skyscrapers visible in the background passing by houses and stores, and a city bus. The road becomes a bridge, coming upon the downtown of the city, bypassing the buildings seen earlier. The same animation that is seen in the more common shorter version then plays as usual.[60]

The current HBO "Feature Presentation" bumper used since April 2, 2011 features a blue aurora background, the HBO logo, and the words "Feature Presentation".

HBO bucks the general trend in pay-TV networks (including the themed networks of sister channel Cinemax) and does not brand programming with digital on-screen graphic logos of the main network and each respective theme channel.[61]



  • 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 Entertainment Alternative"
  • May 1978–October 1979: "The Home Box"
  • October 1979–February 1982: "HBO People Don't Miss Out"[63]
  • February 1982–March 1984: "Start with Us on HBO"/"America's Leading Premium Television Network"/"All the Day, Premium Television, HBO"
  • March 1984–June 1985: "There's No Place Like HBO"[64]
  • June 1985–July 1988: "Let's All Get Together"
  • July 1988–February 1989: "Watch Us Here on HBO"
  • February 1989–July 1990: "Nobody Brings It Home Like HBO"[65] (used alternatively between 1988 and 1989)
  • October 1989–November 1990: "Simply The Best", used song "The Best" by Tina Turner as image theme
  • November 1990–November 1992: "The Best Time on TV"/"The Best Movies"
  • November 1992–October 1993: "We're HBO"
  • October 1993–September 1995: "We're Out of Town Today"
  • September 1995–October 1996: "Something Special's On"[66]
  • October 1996–April 2009: "It's Not TV. It's HBO."[67]
  • 2006–2009: "Get More" (slogan for the HBO website)
  • April 2009–present: "It's More Than You Imagined. It's HBO."
  • 2010–present: "This is HBO." (only used for IDs)
  • 2011–present: "It's HBO."

Other ventures

HBO has expanded considerably with its HBO and Cinemax family of networks as well as influencing television- and film-production.

In 1990, HBO launched HBO Independent Productions, a production company that produced mainly sitcoms for broadcast and basic cable television, including Martin, Roc and Everybody Loves Raymond (distributed by CBS Television Distribution). HBO Downtown Productions launched a year later, producing comedy specials for the network as well as content for Comedy Central (which HBO formerly co-owned).

HBO also operates HBO Films, established in 1999 as a reconfiguration and consolidation of its former movie divisions, HBO NYC Productions and HBO Pictures. HBO also operated another film-division called HBO Showcase, which ceased in 1996 to become HBO NYC Productions.

HBO has participated in a number of joint ventures:

  • TriStar Pictures: In 1982, HBO joint-ventured with Columbia Pictures and CBS Theatrical Films to form a motion picture studio: Tri-Star (the hyphen disappeared later). HBO, CBS and Columbia decided to pool resources to split the ever-growing costs of making movies. Their first production, The Natural, was released in 1984. CBS sold its stake in the studio in 1985.[68] In April 1987, Tri-Star entered into the television business as Tri-Star Television. In December 1987, HBO dropped out of the Tri-Star venture and Columbia Pictures bought their venture shares and merged Columbia and Tri-Star into Columbia Pictures Entertainment. As of 2008 Sony Pictures Entertainment continues to use the name "TriStar".
  • In 2005, HBO Films and New Line Cinema launched Picturehouse, a worldwide theatrical distribution company for high-quality independent films. The company shut down in 2008 as part of the consolidation of New Line with its sister studio Warner Bros.


Various products have used the HBO trademark. In 2005, HBO launched a deal with Cingular Wireless (now AT&T) to establish HBO Mobile. HBO Mobile, a pay service feature much like the cable network itself, features information on HBO original series such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City and others, including episode guides, wallpapers and ringtones voiced by cast-members of HBO series.

In 2005, a version of the DVD interactive game Scene It was released by Mattel, tailored to the HBO network itself; it features trivia on various HBO series.


Example of Festival guide

In 1987, HBO launched a short-lived channel called "Festival".[12] It featured classic movies and recent hit movies as well as HBO's specials and documentaries. The difference with Festival was that it was programmed as a family-friendly service. Atypical for a premium channel, "R"-rated movies were edited for broadcast on Festival and no low-quality programs or movies were shown on the channel. Also, pricing for a subscription of the channel was lower than that of HBO and Cinemax. Festival provided its subscribers with a nicely printed 20-page monthly color guide. Festival, like HBO, also showed free previews - such as the October 30-November 2, 1987 preview, hosted by Tony Randall in-between programs. Festival's slogan was Quality Entertainment You Welcome Home.[69] But only a few cable systems carried Festival and the channel went dark in 1988.[13]

In 1996, HBO re-entered the family premium channel arena with HBO Family, a channel similar to Festival.

Programming on Festival included:

  • Hollywood Classics - fondly remembered movies from the great studios
  • Star Salutes - collections of movies linked by a selected movie-star
  • Centerstage - "Here's Your Front Row Seat for Great Entertainment" which included:
  • Documentaries - nature shows, biographies, etc.
  • Recent hit movies - also commercial-free; however, R-rated movies that were shown were edited to fit a "PG" rating for the Festival channel.


Since 1991, HBO has overseen a number of partnerships that operate HBO-branded programming-networks around the globe. As HBO was launched in new markets the brand has been used in several countries.

  • HBO Canada, launched on October 30, 2008 by the Canadian movie services Movie Central and The Movie Network, is a dedicated multiplex channel carried on both services. Beyond the required brand license by Astral Media (owner of The Movie Network) and Corus Entertainment (owner of Movie Central) to use the HBO trademarks and logomark, Time Warner does not own HBO Canada and has no stake in the network. The channel carries HBO's original programming (though some programming on the network also includes programs that air in the United States on HBO's rival Showtime). It also airs a selection of Canadian films and series to satisfy Canadian content requirements.
  • HBO Asia was originally co-owned by UIP Pay TV, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner and SingTel.
  • HBO Brasil was launched in 1991 by TVA, Time Warner and Sony as an analogue pay channel, but using OTA UHF frequencies and broadcasting nine hours a day. After the Brazilian financial crisis of the late-1990s, TVA sold its share to Time Warner.
  • HBO Central Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro).
  • HBO Adria (Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro, as part of HBO Central Europe).
  • HBO OLE (now HBO Latin America), was originated as a partnership between Venezuelan broadcaster Omnivisión and HBO. Then Sony and The Walt Disney Company joined the partnership. Later, Omnivisión sold its share to Time Warner.
  • Movie Network an Australian premium television service launched in 1995, was founded by HBO (Time Warner), Village Roadshow, MGM and Disney-ABC International Television.
  • Sky Movies (New Zealand) was originally a joint-venture between HBO and Sky Network Television. The channel was renamed HBO in 1993, but Time Warner sold its share to Sky in 1998 and was renamed back to Sky Movies.
  • HBO Caribbean offers English-language broadcasts of HBO material geared towards the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. HBO set up the channel to replace the Spanish foreign-language feed which formerly served the English-speaking Caribbean market. The cable-TV systems of Columbus Communications, Cable Bahamas, and Multi-Choice TV (among others) sell HBO Caribbean.
  • In 2005, the HBO Mobile wireless service launched via Vodafone in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and South Africa, and via SK Telecom in Korea in 2006. In 2006, HBO's SVOD service, HBO On Demand, launched in Israel on HOT, marking the first HBO stand-alone service offered outside the U.S. The service was launched in the UK in 2007 via BT Vision, TalkTalk TV and Virgin Media. Following in 2008 was Cyprus launching HBO On Demand via PrimeTv of PrimeTel Ltd.
  • In February 2011, audiences within the UK and Ireland will be able to watch the majority of HBO programming on one channel with the launch of Sky Atlantic on the Sky platform in both territories. Under a five year broadcasting agreement between HBO and Sky, all new HBO programming will air on the channel before airing on other television channels within the United Kingdom and channels in Ireland.

See also


  1. ^ Netflix Narrows Subscriber Gap With HBO
  2. ^ Time Warner: HBO: Home Box Office
  3. ^ Cablevision Through the Decades Retrieved Feb 8, 2010
  4. ^ Charles Dolan profile page Retrieved October 24, 2011
  5. ^ Cablevision: Charles Dolan Retrieved October 24, 2011
  6. ^ a b c Forsyth, Kevin S. (2002). "Delta, Satcom, and the Cable Boom". History of the Delta Launch Vehicle. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  7. ^ a b HBO Soundtrack:Home Box Office 5 Years - Nov 1977 HBO Guide
  8. ^ FCC History of Communications
  9. ^ Communications History- Home Box Office
  10. ^ "United States:Cable Television". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  11. ^ About Fraggle Rock
  12. ^ a b Festival program guide 1987
  13. ^ a b Festival program guide 1988
  14. ^ TVARK - The Online Television Museum: HBO
  15. ^ Time Inc.-Our History
  16. ^ HBO: three channels are better than one, Multichannel News (via HighBeam Research), May 13, 1991.
  17. ^ "Awards for "The Larry Sanders Show"". IMDb. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  18. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (December 10, 1992 accessdate = December 4, 2010). "AT WORK WITH Garry Shandling; Late-Night TV, Ever More Unreal". The New York Times. "The reaction to "Larry Sanders", perhaps the most widely acclaimed new comedy on television, has stunned him." 
  19. ^ CBS News: TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows Retrieved September 23, 2011
  20. ^ Poniewozik, James. "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time Magazine.,,1651341,00.html. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  21. ^ Emmy Award Database
  22. ^ FCC Consumer Facts
  23. ^ "Cable Subscribers Need Not Order Expanded Packages to Get Premium Channels.", Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, December 1, 2002. Retrieved February 23, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  24. ^ Cable show producers shoot tamer versions. (Home Box Office Inc., among other cable companies, sanitizes original versions of films produced for commercial television consumption), HighBeam Research (via Multichannel News), July 29, 1991.
  25. ^ Greppi, Michele. "The Insider; HBO's bleeping little secret; bleeped profanity in an airing of the retrospective "Six Feet Under: 2001-2005: In Memoriam", TelevisionWeek, August 22, 2005. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  26. ^ HBO Schedule: Primary HBO channel
  27. ^ HBO Family schedule website
  28. ^ HBO Family Schedule: Grid View
  29. ^ The Media Business; HBO Planning to Add New Movie Channels, The New York Times, May 9, 1991. Retrieved 2-8-2011.
  30. ^ HBO sets new digital networks: five channels will be added to existing multiplex channels to create a package of 10, HighBeam Research (via Broadcasting & Cable, April 13, 1998.]
  31. ^ Prikios, Karen Anderson. "HBO: Digital to the Max", Broadcasting & Cable, March 19, 2001. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  32. ^ HBO Family news release with launch year
  33. ^ HBO Family channel on-air
  34. ^ Mitchell, Kim. "HBO reaches out to Hispanics; Home Box Office Inc. forms HBO En Espanol", Multichannel News. May 31, 1993. Retrieved February 23, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
  35. ^ HBO Pops Cork On 3D Video-On-Demand, Multichannel News, January 3, 2011.
  36. ^ Eyes-on with HBO GO
  37. ^ HBO Go heads to FiOS
  38. ^ Google Announces More Providers for Google TV,, October 5, 2010.
  39. ^ Cox To Offer HBO To Go, Multichannel News, March 2, 2011.
  40. ^ DIRECTV to Launch HBO GO® and MAX GO®, April 12th DirecTV Press Release April 11, 2011
  41. ^ Dish Network Offers HBO GO® and MAX GO®, Presenting More Than 1,800 On-Demand Movies and Original Series to Online Customers Dish Network Press Release April 21, 2011
  42. ^ Suddenlink Takes HBO And Cinemax To Go Multichannel News April 26, 2011
  43. ^ Charter Officially Delivers HBO, Cinemax To Go Multichannel News July 21, 2011
  44. ^ HBO Go hits iOS and Android, free for subscribers Engadget April 29, 2011
  45. ^ HBOGo Apps Top 1 Million Downloads In First Week Multichannel News May 10, 2011
  46. ^ HBO GO passes 3 million downloads. Is it worth it? Entertainment Weekly June 27, 2011
  47. ^ It's not TV, it's HBO — on your computer
  48. ^ HBO on Broadband in Restricted Rollout
  49. ^ Sneak Peek at HBO GO
  50. ^ Roku Channel Store
  51. ^ Deal with Dreamworks. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  52. ^ HBO and Summit Entertainment Enter Into Exclusive Output Agreement The Futon Critic May 26, 2011
  53. ^ YouTube - 1974 PBA New Jersey Open Introduction
  54. ^ HBO Hard Knocks
  55. ^ Hale, Mike (4 August 2008). "Girls, Gunfire and Despair: Senior Year for 4 Iraqi Boys". The New York Times (New York City). Retrieved 22 August 2008. 
  56. ^ HBO inaugurates Obama doc Variety November 6, 2008
  57. ^ YouTube: HBO Intro - Behind the Scenes
  58. ^ YouTube - HBO 1983 Intro (HBO)
  59. ^ YouTube-HBO Movie (1980s)
  60. ^ YouTube-HBO Feature Presentation: 1999 version
  61. ^ HBO on-air programming
  62. ^ Youtube clip of HBO slogans
  63. ^ Various publications from 1980 including People, TV Guide as well as YouTube Retrieved December 12, 2008
  64. ^ Home Box Office®- No Place Like HBO® (1983)
  65. ^ November 1985 HBO promos
  66. ^ HBO Something Special's On Falling TV Commercial (1996)
  67. ^ HBO 2002 Bumper It's not TV, It's HBO
  68. ^ CBS Sells Stake In Tri-Star Inc.
  69. ^ Festival program guide

External links

HBO International

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