HBO (Home Box Office) is an American premium cable and satellite television network that is owned by Home Box Office Inc., an operating subsidiary of Time Warner.
HBO's programming consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original television series, along with made-for-cable movies and documentaries, boxing matches and occasional stand-up comedy and concert specials.
HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service (basic or premium) in the United States.
United States, Various Countries
480i (16:9 letterbox SDTV)
Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and the world's most successful pay TV service, providing the two television services - HBO and Cinemax - to approximately 127-million subscribers worldwide.
The services offer the most popular subscription video-on-demand products, HBO On Demand and Cinemax On Demand as well as HBO GO and MAX GO, HD feeds and multiplex channels.
Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand and HBO GO, bring HBO services to over 70 countries. HBO and Cinemax programming is sold into over 150 countries worldwide.
Since 1977, HBO has produced original programming, which includes dramas and comedies in addition to its slate of theatrical films. Most of these shows are intended for adults (and are typically assigned TV-MA ratings), and often feature high amounts of profanity, violence, sexual themes and/or nudity that would be much more difficult to get on basic cable or over-the-air broadcast channels, out of fear of losing sponsors.
During the 1990s, HBO began to experience increasing success with its original series such as Tales from the Crypt, Dream On, Tracey Takes On..., Mr. Show with Bob and David and Arliss.
One such program, The Larry Sanders Show, arguably became HBO's flagship series during that decade and although it was not commercially as successful as programs that aired on the Big Three networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) and Fox, the show did enjoy a cult status, critical acclaim and received nominations and wins for many major television awards (including Emmy and Golden Globe Awards).
The series ranked #38 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time (becoming the only HBO comedy series to make the list) and was also included in Time's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time." The Larry Sanders Show was also ranked by various critics and fans as one of the best TV comedies of the 1990s.
Beginning with the 1997 launch of its first one-hour dramatic narrative series Oz, HBO started a trend that became commonplace with premium cable services. Although critically acclaimed, it was not until The Sopranos premiered in 1999, that the network achieved both mass critical and Emmy success. The Sopranos received 111 Emmy nominations during its six-season run, resulting in 21 wins, two of them for Best Drama.
1998 saw the debut of the 12-part miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, which was produced by Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer and based on the Andrew Chaikin book A Man on the Moon, which cost $68 million to produce and traced the U.S. space program from the U.S./U.S.S.R. space race through the final moon landing, Apollo 17.
From the Earth to the Moon won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries, and helped spur other HBO miniseries based on historical events such as 61*, Band of Brothers, John Adams and The Pacific.
That year also saw the debut of the comedy series Sex and the City, which was based the book series of the same name by Candace Bushnell, which centered on the friendship and romances of four New York City women over the course of the show's six-season run.
In 1999, HBO became the first U.S. cable channel to operate a high-definition simulcast feed. In July 2001, HBO launched HBO on Demand, the first premium subscription video-on-demand enhancement in the United States, to Time Warner Cable subscribers in Columbia, South Carolina.
In 2002, HBO debuted The Wire, which although not surpassing The Sopranos in viewership success, did however match its critical acclaim over its five-season run and further cemented HBO's reputation as being a network that produced quality programming.
HBO experienced another success among viewers in 2008, with the debut of True Blood, a vampire drama based on a series of gothic novels by Charlaine Harris. It ran for seven seasons and 80 episodes, ending in 2014.
The network saw two more hit series in the 2010s with Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin's fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, which earned both critical and viewer praise; and Girls, a comedy series created by series star Lena Dunham.
Other original series include Six Feet Under, Carnivàle, Deadwood, Entourage, Big Love, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Hung, Treme, Veep, Boardwalk Empire, Silicon Valley and True Detective.