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HBO (Home Box Office) is an American premium television network owned by Home Box Office, Inc., a subsidiary of WarnerMedia Entertainment. The programming featured on the network consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original television shows, along with made-for-cable movies, documentaries and occasional comedy and concert specials.
HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service (basic or premium) in the United States, having been in operation since November 8, 1972. In 2016, HBO had an adjusted operating income of US$1.93 billion, compared to the US$1.88 billion it accrued in 2015. HBO has 140 million subscribers worldwide as of 2018. The network provides seven 24-hour multiplex channels, including HBO Comedy, HBO Latino, HBO Signature, and HBO Family. It launched the streaming service HBO Now in April 2015 and has over 5 million subscribers in the United States as of February 2018.
As of July 2015, HBO’s programming is available to approximately 36,493,000 households with at least one television set (31.3% of all cable, satellite and telco customers) in the United States (36,013,000 subscribers or 30.9% of all households with pay television service receive at least HBO’s primary channel), making it the second largest premium channel in the United States (Encore, owned by Starz Inc., reaches 40.54 million pay television households as of July 2015). In addition to its U.S. subscriber base, HBO distributes content in at least 151 countries.
HBO subscribers generally pay for an extra tier of service that includes other cable- and satellite-exclusive channels even before paying for the channel itself (though HBO often prices all of its channels together in a single package). However, a regulation imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that cable providers allow subscribers to get just “limited” basic cable (a base programming tier that includes local, and in some areas, out-of-market broadcast stations and public, educational, and government access channels) and premium services such as HBO, without subscribing to expanded service (Comcast is the only major provider to have purposefully offered the network in such a manner utilizing this law, as it offered a bundled cable/Internet package that included limited basic service and HBO from October 2013 to July 2014, or January of the latter year in some markets). Cable providers can require the use of a converter box—usually digital—in order to receive HBO.
HBO also provides its content through digital media; the channel maintains HBO Go, a video on demand streaming service available as a website and slate of mobile apps exclusively to existing subscribers of the linear channel suite and a separate, but similar standalone service, HBO Now, which launched in April 2015 as a subscription streaming platform that does not require a subscription to the HBO television service.
HBO also maintains near-ubiquitous distribution in hotels across the United States through agreements with DirecTV, Echostar, SONIFI Solutions, Satellite Management Services, Inc., Telerent Leasing Corporation, Total Media Concepts and World Cinema as well as cable providers that maintain hospitality service arrangements with individual hotels and local franchises of national hotel/motel chains; although Home Box Office Inc. does not keep tallies of national hotel distribution numbers, LodgeNet (now SONIFI Solutions) estimated in 2008 that HBO was available to 98% of all hotels that at least receive cable or satellite service via the content and connectivity solutions company. Since June 2018, through a content partnership with Enseo, HBO Go is also distributed to some Marriott International hotels around the U.S.; guests staying in Marriott hotels that have access to HBO Go on connected in-room TV sets are not required to sign into the system in order to access content.
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