HBO (Home Box Office) is an American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner, under the operating subsidiary Home Box Office Inc. As of September 2012, HBO’s programming reaches approximately 30 million subscribers in the United States, making it the second largest premium network in the United States (Encore’s programming reaches 35 million subscribers as of January 2013).In addition to its U.S. subscriber base, HBO also broadcasts in at least 151 countries worldwide.
HBO’s programming consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original series, along with made-for-cable movies and documentaries, boxing matches, and occasional stand-up comedy and concert specials.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 Atlanta superstation WTCG-TV (soon to become WTBS) and Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (later to become the present-day ABC Family), laying the foundation for satellite delivery in the modern cable television industry.
The network had broadcast only for nine hours a day for its first nine years on air, from 3 p.m. 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 launch, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went to a 24-hour schedule earlier). On August 1, 1980, HBO launched a companion network, Cinemax, a movie-based pay service created as HBO’s answer to The Movie Channel; in its early years, Cinemax carried music specials and some limited original programming such as SCTV and Max Headroom, in addition to movies, but the network has since become known for airing softcore adult films and series during its late night schedule, and has forayed into original programming with the addition of weekly action series to its lineup in August 2011.