64 Facts About HBO


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

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

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

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HBO 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 multiplex channels.

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

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

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HBO 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 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 became the first pay television network to offer VOD content in 3D; initially available to linear HBO 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 Go is an international TV Everywhere streaming service for broadband subscribers of the linear HBO television service.

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Content available on HBO Go included theatrically released films and HBO original programming (including scripted series, made-for-cable movies, comedy specials, documentaries, and sports documentary and magazine programs).

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

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On October 15, 2014, HBO 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 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 Now was identical to the former HBO Go in terms of content and features.

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New episodes of HBO 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 channel.

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HBO 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 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 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's programming for potential subscribers of the service.

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HBO 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 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 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 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 and other pay cable services—had not usually been shown on other television platforms.

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HBO 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 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 (mainly films released between 1979 and 2015) distributed under library content deals during gap weeks in the monthly premiere schedule.

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Films to which HBO 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 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 to maintain exclusivity over film output arrangements and to save money allocated for film acquisitions.

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In early 1984, HBO 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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In July 1986, the network had signed a three-year output deal with New World Pictures, whereas HBO 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 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 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'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 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 paid low seven figures for the U S 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 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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HBO 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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HBO is noted for its Sports of the 20th Century documentary brand.

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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 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 has produced original entertainment specials throughout its existence.

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

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At irregular intervals between 1986 and 2010, HBO 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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HBO Sports has been headed by several well-known television executives over the years, including its founder Steve Powell, Dave Meister (later head of the Tennis Channel), Seth Abraham (later head of MSG Network), and Ross Greenburg.

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On November 1, 1972, one week before HBO 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 provided regional coverage of New York Yankees Major League Baseball games for the 1974 season.

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HBO 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 to carry no more than three of the team's remaining regular season games.

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In July 1975, HBO inaugurated regional coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament for its Mid-Atlantic U S 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 and was the first program on the network to be broadcast via satellite.

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HBO 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 expanded its boxing slate on February 3, 1996, when HBO Boxing After Dark premiered with title fights involving contenders in the junior featherweight (Marco Antonio Barrera vs Kennedy McKinney) and junior bantamweight (Johnny Tapia vs Giovanni Andrade) classes.

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

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

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

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HBO 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 Go platform as of April 2022, while HBO Max being planned for launch on 2023.

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HBO 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 Canada, Canal + and OCS City in France, Sky Atlantic (Germany) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Sky Atlantic (Italy) 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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