It’s HBO. So Original.


As graduation looms ever closer, I have been searching through various networks, production companies, and cable providers in an attempt to remedy my currently unemployed status. HBO has most definitely been one such network. Over the years, I’ve known high school acquaintances who have gone on to intern at HBO and enjoyed the experience immensely (as noted by never ending Facebook updates and tweets). Even looking further into employee reviews of working a HBO, the company seems to be a fun and creative work place with a level of prestige in the entertainment world.

As of 2011, Business Insider  ranked HBO as the seventh best media company to work for citing that “HBO presents new and exciting challenges for its employees to complete.” More recently, HBO received the seventh place honor for The Most Innovative Company of 2015, according to  Fast Company One of the reasons they have received such recognition is their current project titled HBO NOW, which allows consumers to pay to stream HBO content without having a traditional cable package. The move to reach the enlarging streaming consumer base, makes HBO one of the first television companies to keep up with the digital Jones’s, Netflix and Amazon.

However, the success of HBO NOW has led HBO to a partnership with Apple, a company with questionable production methods as previously discussed in other blog postings and an excerpt of Fran Hawthorne‘s Ethical Chic. Are HBO and its mother company Time Warner Inc. putting themselves at risk by aligning with Apple for their new service?

HBO NOW itself places Time Warner in a potentially dangerous situation as the service might lead some dissatisfied customer to drop their cable subscription, and without knowing how many customers will make that decision, Time Warner will have a difficult time knowing how its other cable networks will be affected.

Most of the public issues with HBO have been a result of the content the network provides. The Columbia Journal Review discusses the negative backlash the network received after the series finale of The Sopranos. Additionally, there have been numerous controversies over the content of HBO’s programming, including issues with the role of women and rape in Game of Thrones and drug use and sex scenes in Girls. How much is HBO held responsible for broadcasting controversial content? Does it matter, considering that it is a paid service and no one is making a consumer watch content they find distasteful?

Feature Image: Still from Despicable Me 2. Found at https://legendoflaura.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/puppy-minions-shocked.png

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10 thoughts on “It’s HBO. So Original.”

  1. Mary, I enjoyed reading your blog about HBO, especially considering their recent deal with Apple. Do you think HBO intentionally pushes the envelope with their programing, making it highly controversial? This may be a case where there is no such thing as bad publicity.

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    1. I definitely think that HBO intends to be pushing the envelope. I also agree that their strategy uses any kind of publicity as a potential to drive ratings and channel subscriptions. The move to HBO NOW only means a bigger potential audience and an additional way for people to see content that’s discussed in the press. HBO NOW might pull in more viewers for HBO content, but do you think it will correlate to a drop in audience for other Time Warner owned networks?

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  2. Some of the moments that you noted as controversial (i.e., the nudity in Girls) have also received praise for pushing the envelope. I believe that the edgy material is symbolic of the business strategies that have caused HBO to succeed.

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    1. Rachel, you’re right. HBO has been praised for pushing the envelope in television, but it has also been criticized for some of those same content choices. Do you think there is a limit to the success HBO can achieve by being edgy in its business strategy? Do you think that HBO’s innovation will be detrimental to other Time Warner Inc. networks or its relationship with cable providers?

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  3. HBO NOW has movies and shows that often time contain controversial content. However, these movies and shows still air on T.V. at some point, and that is where people start to have problems with HBO, because customers are flipping through channels and one has inappropriate content (that one being HBO). Either way however, the people that have HBO channels included it in their subscription. So if people have an issue with what HBO broadcasts, the blame should fall on them for subscribing to it.

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  4. The way that the changes in consumption are re-aligning the industry are fascinating.

    I am pretty libertarian about content. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I feel differently about advertising images as one’s exposure is not as much under one’s control.

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  5. When I think about HBO, it stands out to me amongst other networks because it takes these risks in its content. Its a TV network that has not only pushed the envelope, it has also created a change in the TV shows on other networks to show more controversial content. Since it does require a subscription, I have never had a problem with it having controversial content, because as it has been mentioned, it’s up to people’s own discretion. Other networks that have begun using similarly controversial content show the changing cultural norm of what we perceive as controversial topics. I don’t think their innovation will be detrimental to other Time Warner networks, because of this change in cultural perception in shows.

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  6. I think HBO does its due diligence in posting a warning before each program about the adult content. As for partnering with potentially unethical partners, I think the more interesting question is the speed at which the cable providers decide to use for the broad-band speed. I am not sure if all of the cable providers have the same speed because they partnering with HBO, but I would be curious to learn of HBO’s position on the recently passed Net Neutrality law. HBO is a premium provider and this will undoubtably affect their business.

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  7. As a fan of HBO’s shows, I find it hard to blame the network for the content of its shows. For example, just because Game of Thrones depicts rape, should we force HBO to take the show off the air and pretend that rape doesn’t exist? It’s not like the show is promoting the issue–it is simply presenting it.

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