Streaming platforms have emerged — with the momentum of the pandemic — to infiltrate our homes and take the pressure off conventional TV and movie theaters. How much? Time will tell. But all media have been hit by waves of new competitors that have put them to the test, and Before the disruption caused by OTT platforms, there was cable TV, for example.of which HBO origins reveal a lot.

Today, HBO continues to be a pervasive brand in both streaming, HBO Max like on cable TValthough the integration that spawned the Warner Bros. Discovery will mean that its brand will be diluted somewhat in the coming years.

But HBO definitely is and will be a recognizable acronym when we talk about television. Although this was not always the case.

Origin Home cash desk, the three words behind the acronym can be found in a small North American town with barely three hundred customers who unknowingly participated in a pilot test: people would pay to watch extra content on their TV when everything was normally fine. gratuitous. And we’ll see that, at least in the beginning, it wasn’t all that shiny extra content.

From there, until HBO became the reference channel for both series and Sopranoboxing evenings and, later, with its own venue, almost six decades have passed, a long way.

The humble origins of HBO

The origin of HBO is the origin of cable television itself.. Charles Dolan, who would later become its founder, became interested in cable television as a solution to the problem of losing signal during thunderstorms or, in the case of antennas, which was sometimes difficult in big cities such as New York, where skyscrapers caused dark areas where emissions entered with restrictions.

Dolan founded Sterling Information Services, a cable television system he obtained the rights to build in Lower Manhattan, New York. Television was, as the name suggests, an underground cable that worked better but was very expensive.

Installing this underground cable system was so expensive that Sterling lost money within the first few years, and Dolan agreed to sell his interest in Sterling to Time-Life to keep the company afloat. We will now see why this is important. At the time, Time-Life was the book publishing arm of Time Inc, a company that merged with Warner in 1990 to become Time Warner (now WarnerMedia, part of Warner Bros. Discovery), which led Sterling to change its name to Cable Time. Warner.

End of business conglomerate turns. Let’s get back to history.

While trying to figure out how to make the company profitable, Dolan came up with the idea of ​​starting a cable television network while on vacation in 1971.

Dolan’s idea, called Green channel, was to create a television channel that licensed and broadcast films and sports events without interruption for commercials. Sounds like something?

To start D.Olan reached an agreement with Madison Square Garden’s management company to broadcast games that weren’t on TV. As far as cinema is concerned, it was the easiest to start filming Series B. There was nothing less.

This idea was radical at the time, and Time-Life was initially hesitant to fund it, especially since cable television was still uncharted territory in the early 1970s and was under constant scrutiny from other networks such as NBC, CBS or ABC, who saw the service as a potential threat to free-to-air television, but Dolan convinced Time-Life to give it a $150,000 investment to develop the network that would become officially known as Home Box Office.

HBO was born.

Starting with just 300 clients

HBO was first launched on November 8, 1972, and the program’s first broadcast was an NHL hockey game between the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks, played at Madison Square Garden and broadcast to 325 subscribers in Wilkes. Pennsylvania, which was reached as a result of an agreement with local television, which already had these subscribers. The match was followed by his first film appearance, a 1971 film. Sometimes a great concept.

If you think about a big release, then this was not. First, because Madison Square Garden has imposed restrictions, so even if HBO grows, could not broadcast its events to subscribers located in a radius close to the stadium, so as not to harm ticket sales. And secondly, because the movies didn’t seem to be on any level.

Everything was not going very well. So much so that HBO founder Charles Dolan stepped down from the company in 1973, handing over full control to Time-Life, which named HBO Chief Financial Officer Gerald Levin as the new president and CEO.

Cable TV… But via satellite

Things didn’t go well for HBO in the early 1970s, with many people canceling their subscriptions due to HBO’s recurring programming, although it began to grow and turn a profit in 1975 after Time-Life’s decision to expand the channel’s coverage across the country. using satellite transmission, something that other cable networks didn’t want aato accept, but which Gerald Levin considered the only viable option to expand HBO’s reach.

On September 30, 1975, HBO became the first television network to carry a regular satellite signal. His first broadcast was a boxing match on heavyweight championship between Muhammad Ali and Joe Fraziercelebrated in the Philippines and known as Thriller in Manila. An event that they were able to host only thanks to this technology, and which will mean for them before and after.

Cable services delivered via satellite became the norm in the late 1970s, and by 1980 HBO was operated by cable providers throughout the United States with an estimated 15 million subscribers.

In 1983, HBO began airing its first children’s program. Fraggle Rock by Jim Hensonwhich was so popular that it began airing regular children’s programming and featured the first television movie made exclusively for HBO or any pay TV channel. The Terry Fox Story.

Things were already going well. In 1988, during the Writers Guild of America strike, the number of subscribers skyrocketed.because the television networks were forced to air reruns while HBO had a permanent roster of first-run programming.

HBO began to flourish in the 1990s with many hit shows that were artistically superior to those aired on network television.

That’s where the names we all know begin. Among these programs was a horror anthology Tales from the Crypt(1989-1996) or The Larry Sanders Show (1992–1998), comedy series starring Garry Shandling that explores the intricacies of the life of a talk show host.

Many attribute the artistic success of these shows to HBO’s freedom to air content that would have been risky on a traditionally ad-supported network that gave the creators of these shows creative freedom.

Golden Age: c Soprano a Game of Thrones

And then the land of the series began. Soprano (1999-2007) Many critics consider it the best television series in history (those who write think so). The beginning of television, prestige television that eventually spawned programs such as The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad or House of cardsIt started with Sopranowhich became the first HBO series and the first cable show in history to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama.

In fact, HBO has begun to honor its slogan more than ever: “It’s not TV, it’s HBO.”

More modern productions would follow later, such as Big Little Lies, Boardwalk Empire, Legacy, True Blood, True Detective, Westworld and of course Game of Thrones.

Starting in 2010, the video-on-demand service HBO Go was launched., allowing HBO subscribers to watch selected HBO content over the web and its app. Another streaming service called HBO Now allowed non-HBO subscribers to access the HBO content library for $15 a month. Its first OTT platform, in fact, is separate from the private channel and will change its name in 2020 to the current HBO Max, which will change again in 2023 as a result of the business alliance between Warner and Discovery.

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Source: Hiper Textual
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