69 Facts About HBO Sports


HBO Sports is the oldest and longest continuously operating subscription television service in the United States.

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HBO Sports pioneered modern pay television upon its launch on November 8,1972: it was the first television service to be directly transmitted and distributed to individual cable television systems, and was the conceptual blueprint for the "premium channel, " pay television services sold to subscribers for an extra monthly fee that do not accept traditional advertising and present their programming without editing for objectionable material.

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The HBO Sports multiplex expanded to include a fourth channel on December 1,1996, with the launch of HBO Sports Family, focusing on family-oriented feature films and television series aimed at younger children.

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HBO Sports transmits feeds of its primary and multiplex channels on both Eastern and Pacific Time Zone schedules.

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HBO Sports maintains a separate feed for the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone—the only American cable-originated television network to offer a timeshift feed for Hawaii viewers—operating a three-hour-delayed version of the primary channel's Pacific Time feed for subscribers of Oceanic Spectrum, which otherwise transmits Pacific Time feeds for the six other HBO Sports multiplex channels.

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Cinemax, unlike HBO Sports, maintained a 24-hour schedule from its launch, one of the first pay cable services to transmit around-the-clock.

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HBO Sports HD is a high definition simulcast feed of HBO Sports that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format.

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HBO Sports maintains high definition simulcast feeds of its main channel and all six multiplex channels.

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HBO Sports began transmitting a high definition simulcast feed on March 6,1999, becoming the first American cable television network to begin simulcast their programming in the format.

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Bob Zitter, then the network's Senior Vice President of Technology Operations, disclosed to Multichannel News in January 2001 that HBO Sports elected to delay offering its original series in high definition until there was both sustainable consumer penetration of high-definition television sets and wide accessibility of HDTV equipment on the retail market.

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On January 3,2011, HBO Sports became the first pay television network to offer VOD content in 3D; initially available to linear HBO Sports subscribers signed with Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Verizon FiOS, 3D content consisted of theatrical feature films available in the format.

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HBO Sports Go is an international TV Everywhere streaming service for broadband subscribers of the linear HBO Sports television service.

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Content available on HBO Go included theatrically released films and HBO original programming.

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The "HBO Sports Go" moniker remains in use as the brand for HBO Sports's streaming platforms in select European, Latin American and Asian markets.

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On October 15,2014, HBO Sports announced plans to launch an OTT subscription streaming service in 2015, which would be distributed as a standalone offering that does not require an existing television subscription to access content.

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The service, HBO Sports Now, was unveiled on March 9,2015, and officially launched one month later on April 7.

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Available for $15 per month, HBO Sports Now was identical to the former HBO Sports Go in terms of content and features.

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New episodes of HBO Sports series were made available for streaming on the initial airdate, and usually uploaded at their normal airtime, of their original broadcast on the main linear HBO Sports channel.

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HBO Sports Max is an over-the-top subscription streaming service operated by Warner Bros.

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The watershed policy was extended to cover TV-MA-rated programs when the TV Parental Guidelines were implemented industry-wide on January 1,1997, although HBO Sports had already been withholding airing original programs incorporating mature content that would now qualify for a TV-MA rating outside the watershed period.

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HBO Sports pioneered the free preview concept—now a standard promotional tool in the pay television industry—in 1973, as a marketing strategy allowing participating television providers to offer a sampling of HBO Sports's programming for potential subscribers of the service.

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Cable providers were given permission to offer the unscrambled HBO Sports content—aired for a single evening or, beginning in 1981 at the network level, over a two-day weekend —over a local origination channel, though satellite and digital cable providers elected instead to unencrypt the channels corresponding to each HBO Sports feed for the preview period.

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HBO Sports offers between three and five preview events each year—normally scheduled to coincide with the premiere of a new or returning original series, and in the past, a high-profile special or feature film—to pay television providers for distribution on a voluntary participation basis.

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Currently, these segments air under the HBO Sports First Look series of 15-to-20-minute-long documentary-style interstitial specials, which debuted in 1992 and has no set airing schedule.

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HBO Sports innovated original entertainment programming for cable television networks, in which a television series, made-for-television movie or entertainment special is developed for and production is primarily, if not exclusively, handled by the channel of its originating broadcast.

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Mainly because it is not beholden to the preferences of advertisers, HBO Sports has long been regarded in the entertainment industry for letting program creators maintain full creative autonomy over their projects, allowing them to depict gritty subject matter that—prior to basic cable channels and streaming services deciding to follow the model set by HBO Sports and other pay cable services—had not usually been shown on other television platforms.

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HBO Sports ventured back into children's programming with its acquisition of first-run broadcast and streaming rights to Sesame Street, a long-running children's television series that had previously aired on the program's longtime broadcaster, PBS, for the vast majority of its run, in a five-year programming and development deal with Sesame Workshop that was announced in August 2015.

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COVID-19-related postponements of newer theatrical releases by its distribution partners caused HBO Sports to reduce the frequency of scheduled theatrical premieres in September 2020; since then, the Saturday 8:00 slot has been occupied by premieres of original specials and documentaries and, since late December 2020, airings of older hit movies distributed under library content deals during gap weeks in the monthly premiere schedule.

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Films to which HBO Sports maintains traditional telecast and streaming rights will usually be shown on the Cinemax television and streaming platforms during their licensing agreement period.

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From its launch as a regional service, HBO Sports purchased broadcast rights to theatrical movies on a per-title basis.

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The network pioneered the pay television industry practice, known as a "pre-buy, " of buying the pay-cable rights to a movie from its releasing studio before it started filming, in exchange for agreeing to pay a specified share of a film's production costs; this allowed HBO Sports to maintain exclusivity over film output arrangements and to save money allocated for film acquisitions.

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In 1983, HBO Sports entered into three exclusive licensing agreements tied to production financing arrangements involving Tri-Star Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Orion Pictures.

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In early 1984, HBO Sports abandoned the exclusivity practice, citing internal research that concluded that subscribers showed indifference to efforts by premium channels to secure rights to studios' full slate of recently released films from to distinguish their programming due to VHS availability preceding pay-cable distribution in the release window.

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Biondi's replacement, Michael J Fuchs, structured some of the subsequent deals as non-exclusive to allow HBO to divert more funding toward co-producing made-for-cable movies, other original programming and theatrical joint ventures.

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In July 1986, the network had signed a three-year output deal with New World Pictures, whereas HBO Sports would receive up to 75 New World films Showtime won't, which cost $50 million to sign a deal.

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In December 1986, HBO Sports signed a pact with Soviet Union producer Poseidon Films, in order to cover Soviet-based films that covered a non-specific timespan, with the network controlling US and Canada rights.

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In July 1987, HBO Sports signed a five-year, $500-million deal for exclusive rights to 85 Paramount Pictures films to have been tentatively released between May 1988 and May 1993.

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Under Nevins, HBO Sports's documentaries have won 35 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, 42 Peabody Awards, and 26 Academy Awards as well as 31 individual Primetime Emmy Awards honored to Nevins.

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HBO Sports produced a series of informational documentaries in partnership with Consumer Reports starting in 1980, detailing information on subjects encompassing product safety, personal finance and health.

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In November 2008, HBO Sports paid low seven figures for the US television rights to the Amy Rice–Alicia Sams documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.

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In November 2012, HBO Sports aired the four-part documentary, Witness, which devoted each part to one of four conflict regions—Juarez, Libya, South Sudan and Rio de Janeiro—as covered by a team of photojournalists based in those regions.

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In February 2015, HBO Sports premiered a six-part documentary from Andrew Jarecki, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, chronicling the mystery surrounding the New York real estate heir's alleged involvement in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathie Durst; the 2000 execution-style killing of writer Susan Berman; and the 2001 death and dismemberment of Durst's neighbor, Morris Black.

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HBO Sports has produced recurring documentary series, among the earliest and most notable being America Undercover, a monthly one-hour series of topical documentaries covering subjects in an un-sensationalized manner.

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Vice was cancelled on February 1,2019, as part of a broader corporate reorganization at Vice Media; a companion daily news show, Vice News Tonight, was cancelled on June 10,2019, when HBO Sports announced it would be terminating its seven-year partnership with the company.

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Alongside feature-length movies and other types of original programming, HBO Sports has produced original entertainment specials throughout its existence.

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Regular comedy specials on HBO Sports began on December 31,1975, with the premiere of An Evening with Robert Klein, the first of nine HBO Sports stand-up specials that the comic headlined over 35 years.

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At irregular intervals between 1986 and 2010, HBO Sports served as the primary broadcaster of Comic Relief USA fundraising specials to help health and welfare assistance programs focused on America's homeless population.

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Discovery HBO Sports that produced selected sports event telecasts for the channel from its November 1972 launch until December 2018.

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HBO Sports has been headed by several well-known television executives over the years, including its founder Steve Powell, Dave Meister, Seth Abraham, and Ross Greenburg.

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On November 1,1972, one week before HBO Sports formally launched, Madison Square Garden granted Sterling the rights to televise its sporting events to cable television systems outside New York City.

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HBO Sports provided regional coverage of New York Yankees Major League Baseball games for the 1974 season.

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HBO Sports representatives contended that regulatory interference over the game broadcasts was prohibited under the First Amendment, and that it offered only weekday games as WPIX held rights to selected Yankees weekend games; it contended the anti-siphoning rules did not apply as there was not a per-program charge for the broadcasts.

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In September 1974, citing the games were unavailable on broadcast television, the FCC gave temporary authorization for HBO Sports to carry no more than three of the team's remaining regular season games.

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In July 1975, HBO Sports inaugurated regional coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament for its Mid-Atlantic US subscribers.

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On June 25,1999, HBO Sports announced it would not renew its share of the Wimbledon television contract after the conclusion of that year's tournament, ending its 25-year broadcast relationship with the Grand Slam event.

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On September 30,1975, the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier aired on HBO Sports and was the first program on the network to be broadcast via satellite.

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HBO Sports expanded its boxing content to pay-per-view in December 1990, when it created a production arm to distribute and organize marquee boxing matches in conjunction with participating promoters, TVKO ; the first TVKO-produced boxing event was the April 19,1991, "Battle of the Ages" bout between Evander Holyfield and George Foreman.

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HBO Sports expanded its boxing slate on February 3,1996, when HBO Sports Boxing After Dark premiered with title fights involving contenders in the junior featherweight and junior bantamweight classes.

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HBO Sports then refocused its efforts at attracting younger viewers through Boxing After Dark.

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On September 27,2018, HBO announced it would discontinue its boxing telecasts after 45 years, following its last televised match on October 27, marking the end of live sports on the network.

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Since 1977, HBO Sports has offered documentary- and interview-based weekly series focusing on athletes and the world of athletics.

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On September 22,1977, HBO premiered the channel's first original weekly series, and its first sports-related documentary and analysis series, Inside the NFL, a program that featured post-game highlights and analysis of the previous week's marquee National Football League games as well as interviews with players, coaches and team management.

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Original HBO Sports logo—used from the channel's November 8,1972, launch until April 30,1975—consisted of a minimalist marquee light array surrounding a left-adjusted "Home Box Office" nameplate, rendered in mixed-caps, accompanied by a ticket stub image.

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HBO Sports Max has used a four-second variant to open films on its main HBO Sports content portal since it launched in May 2020.

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HBO Sports Europe was launched in Budapest in 1991 in partnership with Sony, which was joined by Disney in 1996.

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HBO Sports programs are available as well through the HBO Sports Max OTT service.

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HBO Sports Asia was released in 1992 in Signapore as a partnership with Singtel and was later joined by Sony and UIP.

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The on-demand video program in Southeast and South Asia is still on the old HBO Sports Go platform as of April 2022, while HBO Sports Max being planned for launch on 2023.

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HBO Sports programs are distributed through agreements with third parties and are available on premium TV channels of local operators: Fox Showcase in Australia, Be 1 in Belgium, HBO Sports Canada, Canal + and OCS City in France, Sky Atlantic in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Sky Atlantic in Italy, Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom and Ireland, SoHo in New Zealand, M-Net Binge in Sub-Saharan Africa and OSN First Series in the Middle East and North Africa.

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