Overview[ edit ] As of July , HBO's programming is available to approximately 36,, households with at least one television set In addition to its U. HBO also provides its content through digital media; the channel maintains 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 service, HBO Now , which launched in April as a subscription streaming platform that does not require a subscription to the HBO television service.
Because of the cost of HBO which is the most expensive of the U. This was partly because the tall buildings in the city blocked television signals and partly 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 damaged telephone and telegraph lines in the area.
In the summer of , 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. 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.
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.
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 president John Walson to launch the channel on its system in Wilkes-Barre outside of the 76ers' DMA, in northeastern Pennsylvania.
In addition, the city manager of Wilkes-Barre declined an offer to attend the launch ceremony, while Time Inc. 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. Home Box Office distributed its first sports event immediately after the film: Dolan's media partner, Time-Life, Inc.
At the time, Home Box Office's future looked dim: HBO would eventually increase its fortunes within two years: 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 , they settled on using a geostationary communications satellite to transmit HBO to cable providers throughout the United States. Eastern Time on September 30, , HBO became the first television network to continuously deliver its signal via satellite as opposed to microwave relay, the industry norm at the time 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.
HBO distributed its programming for only nine hours each day, from 3: Eastern Time, during its first nine years of operation. The network first adopted a hour schedule on weekends in September , running from 3: 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.
That year also saw the premiere of the first children's program to be distributed on the channel: HBO continued to air various original programs aimed at children until , when these programs almost completely moved over to HBO Family which continued to occasionally distribute its own slate of original children's programming until 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.
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 presentation of 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 , 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 , 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. 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.
Show with Bob and David and Arliss. Beginning with the launch of its first one-hour dramatic narrative series Oz , HBO started a trend that became commonplace with premium cable services. While the show was critically acclaimed, it was not until The Sopranos premiered in , that the network achieved widespread critical success for an hour-long series.
The Sopranos—centering on mob patriarch Tony Soprano James Gandolfini and his family—received Emmy nominations during its six-season run, resulting in 21 wins, two of them for Outstanding Drama Series.
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.
In , HBO became the first U. The network saw three more hit series in the s with Game of Thrones , based on George 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.
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. The original deadline was on Oct. The hacker group also had access to scripts for HBO shows. The following year, research from ACNielsen revealed that multiplex delivery of HBO and Cinemax had a positive impact on subscriber usage and attitudes, including aiding in the retention of pay cable subscriptions by its subscribers.
In May , two more channels launched: List of channels[ edit ] Depending on the service provider, HBO provides up to thirteen multiplex channels—seven 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 month. 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.
Channel 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: The main HBO channel mainly airs R-rated films only after 8: 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 episodes of HBO original series aired recently on the primary channel.
HBO Comedy Launched on May 6, ,  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.
It airs a block of series aimed at preschoolers, "Jam", each morning from 6: Eastern and Pacific Time; films and family-oriented original specials fill out the remainder of the channel's daily schedule. Launched in , the channel was originally known as "HBO 3" until October , 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.
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. Cinemax On August 1, , HBO launched Cinemax, a companion movie-based premium channel  created as HBO's answer to fellow movie-oriented pay service The Movie Channel which operated as a standalone service at the time. Unlike HBO, Cinemax maintained a hour schedule from its launch.
The channel succeeded early on partly due to its reliance on movie classics from the s to the s—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 Cinemax and 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 Eastern Time ,   and eventually began producing original action series in August The main channel first began broadcasting in high definition on March 6, 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.
HBO Go HBO Go logo On February 18, , HBO launched HBO Go, a service that carries 1, 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 as Roku and 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 programming. HBO Now HBO Now logo On October 15, , HBO announced plans to launch an over-the-top subscription video on demand service in , which would be distributed as a standalone offering that does not require an existing television subscription to use.