Definitions

HBO Latino

HBO

HBO (Home Box Office) is a premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner. It offers two 24-hour pay television services, HBO and Cinemax, to over 38 million U.S. subscribers. The services include the subscription video on demand products, HBO On Demand and Cinemax On Demand, as well as multiplex channels and HD feeds. Internationally the subscription video on demand products HBO On Demand and HBO Mobile, along with HBO branded joint ventures, bring its services to over 50 countries. HBO programming is broadcast into over 150 countries worldwide.

History

In 1965, cable pioneer Charles Dolan won the franchise to build a cable system in lower Manhattan. The new system, called Sterling Manhattan Cable by Mr. Dolan, was the nation's first urban underground cable system. Rather than stringing cable on telephone poles and using microwave antennas to receive the signals, Sterling laid underground cable beneath the streets of Manhattan because television signals were blocked by many tall buildings. Time Life, Inc., in the same year, purchased 20 percent of Dolan's company.

Dolan presented his "Green Channel" idea to Time Life management, and though satellite distribution was only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time Life to back him, and soon "The Green Channel" became Home Box Office on November 8, 1972. HBO began using a network of microwave relay towers to feed its programming. The first program and film to be seen on HBO was Sometimes a Great Notion, starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda to a CATV system in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (a plaque commemorating this event is found in Wilkes-Barre's downtown Public Square).

Sterling Manhattan Cable was rapidly losing money because the company had 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 of 1973. Gerald Levin replaced Dolan as HBO's President and Chief Executive Officer. In September of 1973 Time Life, Inc. completed its acquisition of the pay service. HBO was soon the fastest growing show 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.

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. On December 28, 1981, HBO expanded its programming schedule to 24 hours a day, seven days per week. (Cinemax was 24/7 from the day it signed on, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went 24 hours earlier.) In January 1986, HBO also became the first satellite network to encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher II System and in 1993 became the world's first digitally transmitted television service. In 1999 HBO became the first national cable TV network to broadcast a high-definition version of its channel.

In 1983 The Terry Fox Story premiered; it was HBO's first original movie and the first made-for-pay-TV movie. That year was also the premiere of the first kids' show to be broadcast on the channel—Fraggle Rock.

In the late 1980s, HBO launched a short-lived channel, Festival. It featured classic movies and current hit movies as well as HBO's specials and documentaries. The difference with Festival was that it was programmed to be family-friendly. R rated movies were edited for showing and no low quality themed programs/movies were shown. Also, the subscription for the channel was priced lower than HBO & Cinemax. Unfortunately, only a few cable systems carried Festival and the channel went dark after a year or so.

HBO was involved in several legal suits during the 1980s involving cable systems and legal statutes imposed by state and city laws that would have censored HBO and other pay-TV networks for programming that was considered "indecent".

In April 1986, HBO became a victim of broadcast signal intrusion when a man calling himself "Captain Midnight" intercepted the network's signal during a movie presentation of The Falcon and the Snowman. The man was later caught and prosecuted.

In 1988 HBO's userbase expanded greatly on account of the writer's guild going on strike; HBO had new programming while standard TV was only able to show reruns.

In 1991, HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexing to cable customers. 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, now 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). The HBO channels became collectively known as "HBO The Works" in 1998, and the Cinemax channels became known as "MultiMax". The two packages then merged into "HBO/MAX Pak", but are no longer packaged under one name.

Originally, HBO was part of Time Inc. When Time merged with Warner Communications in 1989, it became part of Time Warner, who serves as its parent company today. Warner actually created rival The Movie Channel in the late-1970s before selling it to Viacom a few years later.

In 1989-90, HBO compared programming against Showtime, another pay television network, with the slogan "Nobody Brings it Home Like HBO" using the Tina Turner single Simply the Best.

HBO has also developed a reputation for offering very high quality original programming. HBO is a subscription-only service and does not carry normal commercials; both of these factors relieve HBO from pressures to tone down controversial aspects in their programs, thus allowing for explicit themes, such as graphic violence, sex and profanity.

The network is currently received in roughly one-third of households in the United States. It can be quite expensive to acquire HBO because subscribers are generally required to pay for an extra "tier" of service even before paying for the channel itself (though all of the HBO channels are often priced together in a single package). Someone upgrading from a standard cable package might see their bill increase more than 40%. However, federal law requires that a cable system allow a person to get just basic cable (local broadcast channels and public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channels) and HBO, without subscribing to expanded service. Cable systems can require the use of a converter box (usually digital) to receive HBO.

Even in the days of the V-chip, the primary HBO channel still does not run unedited R rated films or TV-MA rated programming during the daytime, continuing a long-held policy. HBO's multiplex channels will do so (excluding HBO Family, which doesn't run R rated films at all and will generally run PG-13 rated films only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.).

Several HBO programs have been re-aired on other networks and local syndication (usually after some editing), and a number of them are also available on DVD. Since HBO's more successful series, most notably Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, are broadcast on non-cable networks in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and much of Europe, HBO programming has the potential to be seen by a higher percentage of the population of those countries as compared to the U.S. Because of the high cost of HBO, 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.

HBO has international operations in Latin America, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania (and Moldova), Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Asia/South Asia (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan). It also had an early investment in New Zealand's SKY Network Television through the channel HBO (now Sky Movies). HBO plans to launch international operations in "key markets" of Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Turkey) and Japan.

HBO has already begun to deliver content to cable customers via its subscription video on demand service, HBO On Demand, in the UK (BT Vision and Virgin Media) and Israel (Jasmine TV). Additionally, it has launched its HBO Mobile service in Western Europe, South Africa and Korea.

HBO.com launched in 1995. It is well-known for its online web shows.

Other media ventures

HBO has expanded considerably, with its HBO and Cinemax family of networks as well as influence in 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 and Everybody Loves Raymond. HBO Downtown Productions was 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, created 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 form HBO NYC Productions.

HBO also has a number of joint ventures:

  • Tri-Star Pictures. In 1982, HBO joint ventured with Columbia Pictures and CBS to form a motion picture studio: Tri-Star (the hyphen was dropped later). HBO, CBS and Columbia decided to pool resources to split the ever-growing costs of making movies. Their first release, in 1984, was The Natural. Their second movie was a flop remake of the 1960 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture Where the Boys Are. CBS dropped out of the venture in 1984. 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, the name TriStar is still in use by Columbia owned Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  • Since 1991, HBO has overseen a number of partnerships that operate HBO branded programming networks around the globe, such as HBO Asia, HBO Brasil, HBO Czech, HBO Hungary, HBO India, HBO OLE (now HBO Latin America) and HBO Romania.
  • In 2005, HBO and New Line Cinema launched Picturehouse, a new theatrical distribution company that delivers high quality independent films to audiences worldwide.
  • Also 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 Jasmine TV, marking the first HBO stand alone offered outside the U.S. The service was launched in the U.K. in 2007 via BT Vision, Tiscali TV and Virgin Media.

Slogans

  • 1972–1975: "This is HBO, the Home Box Office"
  • 1975–1978: "Different and First"
  • 1978–1982: "The Home Box"
  • 1982–1983: "Start with Us on HBO"
  • 1984–1986: "There's No Place Like HBO"
  • 1986–1988: "Let's All Get Together"
  • 1988–1989: "Watch Us Here on HBO"
  • 1990–1992: "Simply The Best", used song by Tina Turner as image theme. (Still used in HBO Asia)
  • 1992–1993: "We're HBO"
  • 1993–1997: "We're Out of Town Today"
  • 1997–Present: "It's Not TV. It's HBO"
  • 2006–Present: "HBO Online. Get More" (Slogan for its website)

Channels

HBO operates seven multiplex channels and a Movies on Demand service (HBO On Demand).

  • HBO: Popular movies, first-run films, original movies, and original series.
  • HBO2: Secondary channel, features more movies, series and original pictures as well as R-rated films during the day, unlike HBO. Known as "HBO Plus" from 1998 to 2001. In Brazil, it repeats all the movies that original HBO channel plays, and HBO Plus is another channel.
  • HBO Comedy: Less serious films and shows as well as rebroadcasts of HBO comedy series and specials; airs R-rated films during the day, but only broadcasts adult comedy specials at night. This channel is not carried on DirecTV.
  • HBO Family: Movies and series aimed at a younger audience as well as films for the whole family; only airs 'G' or 'PG' rated films starting at 11:30 A.M. EST/PST and airs 'PG-13' films starting late afternoons. Has the distinction of being the only HBO spin-off with its own website; all the others are integrated within the main HBO site. This channel does not show R Movies or TV-MA.
  • HBO Latino: Spanish language version of HBO, for Spanish-speaking audiences. Airs HBO productions including original series dubbed in Spanish as well as Hollywood blockbusters and Spanish-language films. Also airs boxing and the original series Boxeo De Oro.
  • HBO Signature: Quality films, original HBO series and specials geared primarily at women, the channel's target audience. Known as "HBO 3" until 1998.
  • HBO Zone: Airs programming aimed at a younger audience, usually 18–35 years of age, as well as adult-oriented programming at night. This channel is carried only on digital cable.

All seven HBO channels are simulcast in high definition.

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.

HBO original programming

Since 1977, HBO has produced original programming 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, something that would be much more difficult to get on other network channels.

Some of HBO's best-known series include:

Dramas

Comedies

Movies

HBO currently has exclusive deals with DreamWorks (which recently was acquired by Paramount/Viacom), Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios (along with Rogue Pictures and Focus Features), New Line Cinema, and network sister company Warner Bros. (although recently they passed on a package of recent WB films such as The Polar Express and March of the Penguins due to cost, and therefore have bypassed pay-cable altogether and went straight from pay-per-view to broadcast television).

As a result of these limited deals, HBO often fills its late-night schedule with recent B-movies (some of which were never released theatrically) produced by lesser-known, independent companies. On the other hand, HBO also shows sub-runs (runs of films that have already received broadcast network/syndicated television releases) of theatrical films from Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Lions Gate Films.

In 2003, HBO acquired the exclusive pay-cable rights to Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones from Fox and Lucasfilm, Ltd., and during its initial 18-month term of license, aired the movie without first giving it a pay-per-view cable release. HBO also has pay-cable rights to its sequel, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. During negotiations for the pay-cable rights to Clones, a deal to air the entire saga, including the revised DVD version of the original trilogy [IV, V, and VI], was made, and as a result sister network Cinemax became the first U.S. network to air all six films (in turn, HBO had limited pay-cable access to all these movies until the first quarter of 2008).

HBO also has exclusive pay-cable rights to its own in-house theatrical films made under HBO Films.

Usually films which HBO has pay-cable rights will also run on Cinemax during its time of license.

Sports

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 has since moved to sister network TNT and later to ESPN2. 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. In 1977, HBO launched Inside the NFL, the channel's longest-running program, but cancelled it in 2008. HBO launched Boxing After Dark in 1997, showcasing some of boxing's newest talents. HBO currently operates HBO PPV (formerly TVKO) to broadcast boxing matches to pay-per-view subscribers.

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, returns in 2008 where it will document the Dallas Cowboys.

In 1973, HBO aired a World Wide Wrestling Federation event from Madison Square Garden, headlined by George Steele facing Pedro Morales. The event recently showed up as part of the WWE 24/7 on-demand service.

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.

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 called Costas Now hosted by Bob Costas. Both shows are very similar to another HBO sports show called Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Documentaries

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.

Branding

When the network launched in 1972, the HBO identity was a still image of the text "HOME BOX OFFICE". This was followed in 1975 by an uppercase 'HBO' with a circle inside the 'O'. However, for the first few years, the logo featured the 'B' and the 'O' interlocked with each other with 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 logo with the 'B' and the 'O' still attached to each other but with a whole 'B'. The simplicity of the logo makes it somewhat easy to duplicate, something HBO has taken advantage of many times over the years.

The fanfare to the HBO in Space movie open, originally composed by Ferdinand J. Smith for Score Productions, has become a sort of musical logo for the network with numerous reorchestrations of this fanfare being used, varying from the traditional horns to piano.

Unless otherwise noted, HBO is one of the few pay-TV networks remaining that does not currently brand programming with semi-transparent logos of the main network and each respective theme channel.

HBO on Broadband

In January 2008, HBO launched HBO on Broadband in limited markets. It features 400 hours of movies and original series that can be downloaded to computers. Viewers must be a digital cable customer who subscribes to HBO, and must use their cable company as their internet provider. There is no extra charge for these HBO subscribers for this service. Programming includes 130 movie titles that rotate monthly and top hits ranging from movies, series and specials. Initially, it is only available to Time Warner Cable customers in Green Bay and Milwaukee.

Merchandising

The HBO Trademark has been used in various products. In 2005, HBO launched a deal with Cingular Wireless (now AT&T) to create 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 tailored to the HBO network itself. It features trivia on various HBO series.

HBO Canada

Prior to 2008, HBO was not available in Canada, although some HBO programming was aired on Canadian cable channels. On September 22, 2008, the Canadian pay TV operators The Movie Network and Movie Central announced they would jointly begin offering a dedicated HBO channel in both SD and HD, called HBO Canada, on October 30. The channel's programming will include several HBO series, specials and sporting events not previously available in Canada. A selection of Canadian films and series will also air to satisfy Canadian content requirements.

HBO Canada will not be a standalone channel, but will instead be marketed as one channel within the existing The Movie Network and Movie Central multiplexes.

See also

References

External links

HBO

HBO International

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