HBO is a premium programming subsidiary of Time Warner that offers two 24-hour pay television services, HBO and Cinemax. More than 150 countries around the world can access HBO and it has upwards of 40 million subscribers in the Unites States.
The Green Channel Beginnings
HBO came into infancy under the name “The Green Channel”. It was the brain child of cable pioneer, Charles Dolan who won the franchise to build the very first cable system for TV in lower Manhattan. With Time Life Management at his back, The Green Channel became Home Box Office in 1972. Sometimes a Great Notion, starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda was the first film to be seen on HBO using a complex of microwave towers to feed the programming.
Time Life gained complete control of HBO on 1973 and it soon became one of the fastest growing subscription services in America. Unfortunately, it also had a very high “churn” rate, which meant that subscribers would try it for a while and then dump it by cancelling their subscription.
Free Previews Save the Day
The daring “free preview” concept was tested in Lawrence, Massachusetts where people were given a free trial for 3 months before they had to start paying for it. The promotion proved itself by the fact that many chose to sign onto the program. The concept enabled HBO subscriptions to stick in other areas of the country and it eventually gained a firm foothold.
HBO Goes High Definition
In 1975 HBO with the broadcast of the Thrilla in Manilla boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, it became the first network to deliver continuous signals via satellite. (Sattelite Tv subscribers now have the option of purchasing HBO as part of their service package.) Continuing advances in technology permitted HBO to eventually offer a high definition (high resolution) version of its channel.
HBO has been the subject of criticism over the years because of the fact that it offers restricted content to its viewers, but it also has the reputation for offering exceptionally high quality original programming. Approximately one third of the households in the United States that subscribe to a television serve are set up to receive HBO. HBO has spun in several different directions in the broadcast industry making it a leader in telecommunications.