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HBO (Home Box Office), which was originally established as a premium cable television channel in the United States, has expanded worldwide. Since 1991, HBO has overseen a number of partnerships that operate HBO-branded television networks around the world. As HBO was launched in new markets, the brand has been used in several countries.
While in some countries, it operates using a subscription-based model akin to that of the U.S. service, in others it is offered as a basic cable channel. Although HBO has the right to distribute its original programs for broadcast in other countries, the terms of its licensing agreements with film studios only retains it the right to broadcast them within the United States and the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, therefore film rights for the international channels must be licensed separately.
This article focuses on other HBO channels outside of the United States, including channels that do not carry the HBO branding to which the channel has major program distribution agreements. Eventually, there will be brief histories on each of the international channels, describing any regionally available programming and each service's development.
HBO Brasil was launched in 1991 as a partnership between Televisão Abril, Time Warner and Sony. It was developed as an analogue pay channel, but used UHF broadcast frequencies and ran its programming for nine hours each day. After the Brazilian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Televisão Abril sold its share in the service to Time Warner.
HBO Canada was launched on October 30, 2008 as a multiplex channel of the Canadian movie services Movie Central and The Movie Network. The channel was created as a joint venture between The Movie Network's then-owner Astral Media – whose distribution rights to HBO Canada in Eastern Canada were assumed by Bell Media when it acquired Astral in a 2013 takeover – and Movie Central's owner Corus Entertainment, which distributes the channel in Western Canada. Outside of the required brand licensing by Bell and Corus to use the HBO trademarks and logo, Time Warner does not hold an ownership interest in HBO Canada, either whole or partial. The channel carries HBO's original programming (though some programs that air in the United States on HBO's rival Showtime are also featured on the network, through rights agreements between TMN and Movie Central with both U.S. pay channels). It also airs a selection of Canadian films and series to satisfy Canadian content requirements.
On February 27, 2013, HBO Canada launched HBO GO Canada, a website and mobile app for the iPad and iPhone to The Movie Network subscribers of Bell TV, Bell Fibe TV and Cogeco Cable; the service features streaming program content available in standard or high definition, including original programming produced domestically by HBO Canada and acquired from HBO U.S. and its sister service Cinemax, along with movies, comedy specials, documentaries and sports programming.
HBO Caribbean offers English-language broadcasts of HBO material geared towards the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean audience. HBO launched the channel to replace the Spanish foreign-language feed, which formerly served the English-speaking Caribbean market. HBO Caribbean is carried on cable providers such as Columbus Communications, Cable Bahamas and Multi-Choice TV.
HBO Latin America (originally known as HBO OLÉ) originated in 1991 as a partnership between Venezuelan broadcaster Omnivisión and HBO. The channel was initially available to cable and satellite providers across Central and South America, and the Caribbean. HBO OLÉ reached a break-even profit by 1993, and had about 500,000 subscribers by 1994; that year, a secondary channel was launched, along with a Portuguese feed for Brazil. Sony and The Walt Disney Company later joined the partnership. Omnivisión eventually sold its share in the channel to Time Warner.
HBO Asia was originally co-owned by UIP Pay TV, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner and SingTel. Based in Singapore, it launched in 1993 and initially served only the Philippines and Thailand. HBO Asia expanded to incorporate feeds in Mandarin Chinese, Thai and Bahasa, encompassing 23 countries across Asia.
United Kingdom and Ireland
In February 2011, Sky Atlantic launched on the Sky platform in the United Kingdom and Ireland, which maintains a distribution deal with HBO to offer the majority of its programming on the channel. Under the five-year agreement between HBO and Sky, newer HBO programs will air on Sky Atlantic before airing on other television channels within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
In February 2012, HBO Netherlands launched on cable television provider Ziggo as part of a three-channel service with original programs from HBO broadcasting on a one-day delay from the United States. HBO GO was also made available to subscribers of the service. As of March 2013[update], HBO Netherlands is currently available to subscribers of Ziggo, KPN, UPC, XS4ALL, Telfort, fibre providers Glashart Media and Vodafone Glasvezel and satellite broadcaster CanalDigitaal.
HBO Europe was originally launched in Hungary in 1991 on KábelKom, a company that was created in 1991 as a joint venture between HBO parent Time Warner and United Communications International to provide cable television service to Hungary. The channel's programming was originally transmitted via microwave relay (in the same manner as the flagship HBO channel in the United States from 1972 to 1975), due to the economic issues in using satellite delivery to a country with a small population. By late 1994, HBO Hungary had a subscriber base of 160,000 households. Since that point, HBO has since expanded into 15 European markets including Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia.
On August 15, 2012, HBO announced plans to launch HBO Nordic, a multiplatform video distribution service serving Scandinavia and Finland, created through a joint venture with Parsifal International.The video on demand service launched in December 2012.
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Showcase, an Australian premium television service that launched in 1995, began airing HBO original programming in 2012, through a licensed distribution arrangement with subscription television provider Foxtel. Prior to this, limited HBO content was broadcast through the now-defunct Movie Network, which was founded by HBO (through Time Warner), Village Roadshow, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Disney-ABC International Television.
Sky Movies in New Zealand originally operated as a joint venture between HBO and Sky Network Television. The channel was renamed HBO in 1993; Time Warner later sold its share in the service to Sky in 1998, and renamed it back to Sky Movies.
International on-demand services
In 2005, the HBO Mobile wireless service launched via Vodafone in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and South Africa, and via SK Telecom in Korea in 2006. In 2006, HBO's subscription video-on-demand service HBO On Demand launched in Israel on HOT, marking the first standalone HBO service to be offered outside the United States. The service launched in the United Kingdom in 2007 via BT Vision, TalkTalk TV and Virgin Media, and then rolled out to Cyprus in 2008 through PrimeTv of PrimeTel Ltd.
- Mesce, Bill (November 18, 2013). "It’s Not TV: HBO, The Company That Changed Television: Expanding The Brand (Part 2)". Sound on Sight. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- About HBO: HBO International
- Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC, Broadcaster Magazine, March 6, 2013.
- "The Movie Network Launches Three Video Streaming Services". Broadcaster Magazine. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- HBO and 20th Century Fox renew output deal, Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2012.
- Netflix, HBO to battle for Nordic viewers, Reuters, August 16, 2012.
- HBO Nordic Underwhelms Early Adopters, ArcticStartup, January 8, 2013.
- Official Australian website
- Official UK website
- HBO Australia
- HBO Nederland
- HBO Asia
- HBO South-Asia
- HBO Brazil
- HBO Family Brazil
- HBO Bulgaria
- HBO Canada
- HBO Caribbean (for English speaking Americas)
- HBO Europe
- HBO Nordic
- HBO Croatia
- HBO Hungary
- HBO Latin America
- HBO Family Latin America
- HBO Macedonia
- HBO Poland
- HBO România
- HBO Serbia