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Home Box Office (HBO), a subsidiary of Time Warner, offers two 24/7 pay-television services (HBO and Cinemax) to over 40 million subscribers in the United States. Apart from United States, HBO services are offered[by whom?] in India, Central Europe, Canada, and in over 150 other countries.
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.
In 1965 Charles Dolan, who had already done pioneering work in the commercial use of cables, won a franchise to build a cable system in Lower Manhattan in New York. The new system, which Dolan called "Sterling Manhattan Cable", became the first urban underground cable system in the United States of America. 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 the multitude of tall buildings blocked television signals. In the same year Time Life, Inc. purchased 20 percent of Dolan's company.
Dolan presented his "Green Channel" idea to Time Life management, and though satellite distribution seemed only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time Life to back him. Soon afterwards, on November 8, 1972, "The Green Channel" became "Home Box Office". HBO began using a network of microwave relay towers to feed its programming. The first program and film broadcast on HBO, Sometimes a Great Notion, starred Paul Newman and Henry Fonda. It transmitted with a CATV system in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (a plaque commemorating this event is found in Wilkes-Barre's downtown Public Square). HBO's first sports event was broadcast immediately afterwards, an NHL hockey game from Madison Square Garden featuring the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks.
Sterling Manhattan Cable lost money because the company had only 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 growing TV pay service 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.
In 1973 Time Inc. bought out HBO. When Time merged with Warner Communications in 1989, HBO became part of Time Warner, which as of 2009 continues as its parent company. Warner actually created rival The Movie Channel in the late-1970s before selling it to Viacom a few years later.
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. HBO switched its domestic satellite transmissions from Westar 1 to Satcom 1 in February 1976 and by 1977 was joined by Ted Turner's WTCG-TV (soon to become WTBS) and Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, laying the foundation for satellite delivery in the modern cable television industry.
The network broadcast only nine hours a day for its first nine years on air, from 3PM to midnight ET. In September 1981, HBO began broadcasting a 24-hour schedule on weekends, until midnight ET on Sunday nights. On December 28, 1981, HBO expanded its programming schedule to 24 hours a day, seven days per week (Cinemax had a 24-hour schedule from its August 1980 sign-on, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went to a 24-hour schedule earlier).
In 1983, HBO's first original movie and the first made-for-pay-TV movie The Terry Fox Story premiered. That year also saw the premiere of the first kids' show broadcast on the channel: Fraggle Rock; HBO continued to air various original programs aimed at children until 2001, when such programs were almost completely moved over to HBO Family. HBO became involved in several legal suits during the 1980s; these involved cable systems and legal statutes imposed by state and city laws that would have censored some programming on HBO and other pay-TV networks.
In January 1986, HBO also became the first satellite network to encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher II System. Four months later, 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 Federal Communications Commission subsequently prosecuted the man.
In the late 1980s, HBO launched a short-lived channel, Festival. Festival featured classic movies and current hit movies as well as HBO's specials and documentaries. Distinctively, Festival's programmers aimed to provide family-friendly fare. R-rated movies were edited for broadcast and no low quality themed series, specials and/or movies were shown. Also, the pricing for subscribing to the channel was cheaper than HBO and Cinemax. Only a few cable systems carried Festival and the channel shut down after a year or so.
In 1988, HBO's userbase expanded greatly on account of the Writers Guild of America going on strike; HBO had new programming while standard television channels could only broadcast reruns. In 1989, HBO compared programming against pay-television network Showtime, with the slogan "Nobody Brings it Home Like HBO", using the Tina Turner single Simply the Best.
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, from 1998: 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).
In 1993 HBO became the world's first digitally transmitted television service. HBO.com, subsequently well-known for its online web shows, launched in 1995. In 1999, HBO became the first national cable-TV network to broadcast a high-definition version of its channel. In July 2001, HBO launched the first premium subscription video-on-demand enhancement in the United States of America, called HBO on Demand, to Time Warner Cable subscribers in Columbia, South Carolina. As of 2009, despite the V-chip, the primary HBO channel still does not run unedited R-rated films or TV-MA rated programming before 8PM/ET, continuing a long-held policy. HBO's multiplex channels will do so (excluding HBO Family, which does not run R-rated films at all and will generally run PG-13 rated films only between 6PM and 6AM).
HBO has developed a reputation for offering very high-quality original programming, which has earned the channel numerous Emmy awards. As a subscription-only service, HBO does not carry normal commercials; this relieves HBO from some pressures to tone down controversial aspects in its programs, thus allowing for explicit themes, such as graphic violence, sex and profanity.
HBO subscribers generally pay for an extra "tier" of service even before paying for the channel itself (though HBO often prices all of its channels together in a single package). 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.
Other networks and local syndication have re-aired several HBO programs (usually after some editing), and a number of HBO works have become available on DVD. Since HBO's more successful series, most notably Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, go to air on non-cable networks in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and much of Europe, HBO programming has the potential of exposure to 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.
The HBO pay service consists of seven multiplex channels and a video on demand service (HBO On Demand). 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. However, some cable systems only offer the main channel (and in some cases, HBO2) in this manner.
* HBO: Popular feature films, first-run films, boxing events and sports specials, original movies, original series, comedy specials and documentaries; debuts new movies on Saturday nights. This channel will only air R-rated films and TV-MA rated programming after 8:00PM/ET, but does air PG-13 rated films during the daytime hours.
* HBO 2: Secondary channel, features more movies, series, specials and original movies. Airs R-rated films during the day, unlike HBO. The channel was rebranded as "HBO Plus" from 1998 to 2001. In Brazil, it repeats all the movies that original HBO channel plays, and HBO Plus functions as a separate channel.
* HBO Comedy: Less-serious films and series 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.
* HBO Family: Movies and series aimed at a younger audience as well as films for the whole family; airs series aimed at preschoolers during the morning hours; only airs G- or PG-rated films starting at 12PM ET/PT and airs PG-13 rated films starting in the early evening hours. Uniquely, it is one of only HBO two spin-offs with its own website, along with HBO Latino — all the others are integrated within the main HBO site. This channel will not show R-rated films or TV-MA rated programming.
* HBO Latino: Spanish-language version of HBO for Spanish-speaking audiences, simulcasting much of the same programming seen on the main channel. Airs HBO productions, including original series dubbed in Spanish, as well as Hollywood blockbusters and Spanish-language films. Also airs boxing events, including the original boxing series Boxeo De Oro. Uniquely, it is one of only HBO two spin-offs with its own website, along with HBO Family — all the others are integrated within the main HBO site.
* HBO Signature: Quality films, original HBO series and specials geared primarily at women, the channel's target audience. The channel was known as "HBO 3" from 1995 until 1998.
* HBO Zone: Airs programming aimed at a younger audience, usually 18 to 35 years of age, as well as broadcasting adult-oriented programming at night. As such, HBO Zone, alone among HBO channels, offers softcore pornographic films.
Ultraluxfx.com and all on behalf of Ultraluxfx.com are not affiliated with any of the companies or brands mentioned on this website.
We accept no responsibility and/or liability for any of the claims made or information provided. Information is provided for informational purposes only.
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