HBO on YouTube

HBO today seems like an old familiar standby, but the channel has a strong history of being the first to adopt new technologies to expand its audience reach.

Way back in 1975, HBO went national using the Satcom 1 satellite, leading in a direction that the rest of the cable programming industry would soon follow: 

On September 30, 1975, HBO, affectionately known colloquially as "Home Box", 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. On December 28, 1981, HBO expanded its programming schedule to 24 hours a day, seven days per week. (Cinemax was 24/7 from the day it signed on, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went 24 hours earlier.) In January 1986, HBO also became the first satellite network to encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher II System and in 1993 became the world’s first digitally transmitted television service. In 1999 HBO became the first national cable TV network to broadcast a high-definition version of its channel.

Fast forward 33 years, and its no surprise to see HBO is among the first networks to start its own channel on YouTube. We’ve seen in the presidential race the incredible reach that YouTube has when quality, entertaining content is made available to users. The pro-Obama music video Yes We Can, for example, has reached more than twice the viewers of the last presidential debate.

Al Gore’s Current TV channel, of course, has been at this nexus between the internet and television for several years, and has embraced its ancillary of user generated content. UGA is likely to further transform the media landscape, especially as the promise of IPTV opens up the possibility of millions of channels — and each of those channels will need to be fed fresh content.

Until then, you can watch the Sopranos at work, which we think is a good thing.