Learn more about HBO
HBO (Home Box Office) is an American premium cable television network with headquarters in New York City. HBO airs theatrically released feature films, proprietary original full-length television movies, and various original series. Some of HBO's popular series have included: The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Oz, The Wire, Tracey Takes On..., Carnivàle, Entourage, The Larry Sanders Show, Deadwood, Mr. Show, Big Love, Da Ali G Show, Tales from the Crypt, Band of Brothers, Rome and Extras (the last three were in collaboration with the BBC). HBO broadcasts boxing matches under the banner name HBO Boxing & B.A.D. (Boxing After Dark)
HBO was the first cable network to originate as a non-terrestrial broadcast TV network. In 1965, cable pioneer and visionary Charles Francis Dolan won the franchise to build a cable system in lower Manhattan. The new system, named Sterling Manhattan Cable by Mr. Dolan, was the nation's first urban underground cable system. Instead of 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.
In early 1970, looking for new revenue sources, Mr. Dolan came up with the idea of creating a Green channel for which subscribers would pay extra to receive uncut commercial-free movies and sports coverage. To help run his new project, Dolan hired a young attorney named Gerald Levin, who had experience in contracting for televised films and sporting events, as his Vice President of Programming.
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 microwave to feed its programming. The first program aired over the pay-channel was a New York Rangers / Vancouver Canucks game, to a CATV system in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania (a plaque commemorating this event is found in Wilkes-Barre's downtown Public Square). Also on that night was the first film to be seen on HBO -- Sometimes a Great Notion, starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda.
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, 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 show in America on 14 systems in New York and Pennsylvania, 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. (Lawrence receives HBO on channel 301 today.)
On December 13, 1975, HBO became the first TV network to broadcast its 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. Later, HBO was one of the first cable TV networks to broadcast a high-definition version of its channel.
1983 saw the premiere of HBO's first original movie and the first made-for-pay-TV movie, The Terry Fox Story.
HBO has been involved in several legal suits during the 1980s involving cable systems and legal stautes 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. The man was later caught and was then prosecuted.
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 (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 (now HBO Signature, launched in 1995), HBO Family (launched in 1996), HBO Comedy & HBO Zone (launched in 1999) and HBO Latino, a latino-themed channel of HBO (launched in 2000, HBO also had an HBO En Espanol, a spanish-language service launched in 1988). Cinemax also launched the multiplex services Cinemax 3 (launched in 1996, launching again as ActionMax in 1998), ThrillerMax (launched in 1998) and WMax, @Max, OuterMax and 5StarMax (all launched in 2001).
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, explicit sex, profanity, and drug use.
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 HBO. 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. 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.).
Since TV critics are generally obliged to keep track of HBO, but the general public is not, the network's influence can be overstated. However, 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. Interestingly, since HBO's more successful series, most notably the trio of 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 and Australia, 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.
HBO has international operations in Latin America, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania (and Moldova), Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and 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, UK, Spain, Germany and Italy) and Japan.
 Other Media Ventures
HBO has become somewhat of a media empire, owning the entire 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. 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 1998 out of a merger of two separate small-scale film studios, 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 had a couple of joint ventures, first, with the formation of TriStar Pictures with Columbia Pictures and CBS. Columbia later bought the 2/3rds interest of the studio. Then, HBO merged its The Comedy Channel with Viacom's HA! cable network to form Comedy Central. HBO also had a joint venture with Liberty Media and many major cable companies in Movietime channel (now E!). In 1997, The Walt Disney Company and Comcast purchased control of E! In 2003, Viacom bought HBO's half of the Comedy Central channel and merged it to its MTV Networks unit. In 2005, HBO and New Line Cinema launched Picturehouse, an independent film distributor. HBO is the primary sponsor of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
HBO used to have free programming, however, they had deleted it because it would cost more money than they earned.
 Home Video Operations
 Thorn-EMI Video
This logo was from 1977, to September 1, 1983. And, a blue circle of light, spins around, and turns rainbow, and then slits into 2 light circles, which spin and shrink into a shape, that looks like an upside-down "T", with pointed-ends, probably representing a thorn. And, a white box with a blue aura, is drawn around the shape, and it backs away. And as this happens, a white box, with the words "THORN EMI" appears under that box (which has sinced turn blue, and when that backs away, a white box surrounds that, the bottom of which contains the word "VIDEO."
 Thorn-EMI/HBO Video
This logo was from September 2, 1983, to October 31, 1985. And, against two "walls", of purple lights, the words "THORN", and "EMI" fly from the top, and bottom-air of the screen, towards the top. And, a purple "HBO" logo (1972-), appears, and we see it "O" first (through the hole). And it joins a white rectangle, that has appeared in the middle of the 1983-1985 logo, and the word "VIDEO", drops from the bottom of the white rectangle, and the "O" in the "HBO", logo gets stuck in the circle, and in its hole, and 2 white "comets" streak, past the top and bottom of the 1983-1985 logo, leaving 2 white lines. And, the background, then turns purple.
 HBO/Cannon Video
This logo was from November 1, 1985, to October 21, 1987. And a wall of blue lights opens, and it's much like in the above Thorn-EMI/HBO: 1983-1985 logo. And against these walls, a chromey-looking HBO logo, slides down 1, and the word "CANNON", likewise chromey, slides down the other. And when they meet in the center, a glowing white star, takes them in, and the walls, rotate to face us, as the camera, pans in. And, when we pan in, 2 comets streak, fom the Carolco Pictures logo, from 1984, to 1986, on 2 of the light, making up the wall, and when they pass, we see a white HBO logo, and a white box containing the word "CANNON", rotating fromt he botom to face us. And the 1972-1987 logo, zooms back, with HBO zooming back, to become smaller, than the white box, containing "CANNON", as "VIDEO" zooms out with "Telepictures"-like shadows. And, 2 comets streak above, and below the 1985-1987 logo, to form lines, like in the Thorn-EMI: 1977-1983 logo.
 HBO Video
This logo was from October 22, 1987, to January 2, 1988. And, on a blue BG, we see the HBO logo, and the word "VIDEO", in thin lettering, below. And, 2 lines are seen above, and below the 1987-1988 logo. And, this logo was from January 3, 1988, to November 20, 1995. And, this new music is neat, but a bit warbly, which makes it easy. And, on a black BG, we see tons of red spheres, packed tightly together. And, as we zoom out, the spheres fade into a red HBO logo, with a blue "VIDEO" (in that same font, described above, below.) And, when they move to their positions, and below the 1988-1995 logo, and when the 1988-1995 logo is formed, a spotlight, is shown below the logo.
 Movie Opens
- 1982-1997, HBO in Space: The sequence that made the HBO logo famous. A stop motion/motion control animated (often mistaken to be done in CGI) sequence used to open movies (and in the earliest years of the sequence, specials) began use in 1982, continuing until 1997. It featured a model cityscape with the camera going above homes, buildings and a forest of trees, panning to a shot of outer space culminating in a starburst and a silver three-dimensional HBO logo rotating across the screen.
- 1987, HBO in Space (Parody version): Possibly the rarest HBO opening as it was only used once as a joke. Before the premiere of Back to the Future on the channel, a promo for the night's lineup on both HBO and Cinemax was played as normal. It then segued into a cheap, low-budget parody of the HBO in Space logo, with the famous theme song being replaced by a kazoo version of it. A live-action hand moved the cars and airplanes seen in it, and a "ray gun" shot out a burst that made way for a poorly made HBO logo wrapped in foil. It spins around with the guidance of the hand, before the HBO Feature Presentation card appears represented by pictures, a la Classic Concentration, and finally the standard words in a different font against a black background. The MPAA rating information and film then played as normal.
- 1987-1997, HBO Movie: The sequence begins with a film strip with the HBO logo in the center, the camera slips through various slots until a flash of light hits several spheres. The spheres zoom out forming the HBO logo. The word "Movie" in cursive then appears underneath the HBO logo. When this animation was introduced, the HBO in Space logo was used only for premieres and the occasional prime-time movie.
- 1999-present, The Rush: The sequence opens with a shot of a movie theater with the HBO logo on top of a marquee that says "FEATURE PRESENTATION" in all caps. The camera zooms into a box office booth zooming through a neighborhood passing under a metal bridge in the shape of a "H", then coming upon a snowy mountain road jumping over a cliff, and on the other side passing through an tunnel in the shape of a "B", then coming upon a desert road running into a tanker truck with the tanker in the shape of an "O." We then come upon a neighborhood with skyscrapers appearing in the background running into a freeway then jumping in-between two skyscrapers slowing to a stop on a pool shaped like the "HBO" logo. The word "FEATURE" in all caps appears with the word "PRESENTATION" in small caps fading in underneath.
- 1972-1978: "Different and First"
- 1978-1982: "Don't Miss HBO"
- 1982-1983: "Start with Us on HBO"
- 1983-1985: "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" (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"
- In a MADtv Parody of Sex and the City titled Sluts in the City, the HBO logo is shown with a voice over from Debra Wilson, saying, "HBO, It's not sitcoms, it's porn!"
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
HBO currently has exclusive deals with sister company Warner Bros., Dreamworks (which however has been bought by Paramount) and Twentieth Century Fox. In addition, it holds partial pay-cable rights to movies produced by Sony Pictures (excluding those in partnership with Revolution Studios), and Universal Studios (along Rogue Pictures and Focus Features).
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 often shows sub-runs (that is, 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 it first seeing any pay-per-view cable release. HBO also has pay-cable rights to its sequel, 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 will have limited pay-cable access to all these movies until 2008, when Spike TV will assume the broadcast TV rights).
HBO also has exclusive pay-cable rights to its own in-house theatrical films made under HBO Films. In Latin America, HBO Family translates to spanish, and airs Disney Channel Original Movies, then, they are released and can be showed by Disney Channel
Usually films which HBO has pay-cable rights will also run on Cinemax during its time of license.
HBO's first 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 matchups 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 NBC. 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. 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.
In 2004, guided by human rights activist Ansar Burney, an HBO team 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.
When the network launched in 1972, the HBO identity was (and still is) a 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 left portion of the 'O' cut off and ridged 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 'O'. The simplicity of the logo makes it somewhat easy to duplicate, something HBO has taken advantage of many times over the years. It does not correspond to one particular font; however, a few common geometric typefaces (including Arial Black) are close.
The fanfare to the HBO in Space movie open, originally composed by Ferdinand J. Smith 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.
The HBO Trademark has been used in various products. In 2005, HBO launched a deal with Cingular Wireless 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.
 See also
- HBO Boxing
- HBO Films
- HBO Asia
- Captain Midnight (HBO), for a 1986 incident where HBO's signal was jammed to protest the scrambling of their signal for satellite dish users
- List of DirecTV channels
- List of Dish Network channels