HBO: 15 Things You Definitely Didn’t Know

HBO is one of the most popular destinations for people to view today’s greatest television, comedy, and late-night indulgences. However, despite the fact that the network has spent a considerable amount of time in the spotlight and under the scrutiny of the public eye, there are still some things that many people don’t know. With that in mind, here we present our list of 15 things you probably didn’t know about HBO. Well, what are you waiting for? Check it out for yourself below!

Number Fifteen: Before it Was HBO, it Was The Green Channel

However, this didn’t entirely resonate with the network’s customer base. Charles Dolan, the network’s founder, used an investment he received from Time, Inc. to rename the project Home Box Office. The name change was done to more accurately reflect the services it provided.

Number Fourteen: You Probably Haven’t Heard of the First Film The Netowork Broadcast

Ever heard of Sometimes a Great Notion? Yeah, didn’t think so. The 1971 drama starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda was the first movie the network broadcast.

Number Thirteen: It Used Microwaves to Distribute Its Signal

It’s true! Before advanced technology had been developed, the network had to use microwaves to distribute its signal. It eventually switched over to using satellites after acquiring thousands of subscribers.

Number Twelve: It Used to Air for Just Nine Hours Every Day

Only when Showtime – one of the network’s biggest competitors – began scheduling programs for 24 hours every day did HBO begin scheduling programs at all times. The network aired programs for just nine hours every day for almost the first entire decade of its existence.

Number Eleven: It Tried Introducing a Spinoff Channel – And Completely Failed

In 1979, the network introduced Take 2 as a way to complement their current programs and offer a more family-oriented option for people. However, the channel was met with abysmal ratings, and in 1980, the network debuted Cinemax.

Number Ten: The First Original Film it Produced Didn’t Air First

The network began producing original films in 1983 with Right of Way, which stars Jimmy Stewart and Bette Davis. However, they didn’t air the film until after airing The Terry Fox Story, which was the second original film the network produced. They aired Right of Way second because they thought audiences would respond more strongly to The Terry Fox Story.

Number Nine: It Aired Star Wars Before Anyone Else

Fox sold the rights to Star Wars in 1983, which meant all networks could legally air it after 6 a.m. on February 1. However, HBO paid Fox to begin airing it at midnight, before anyone else.

Number Eight: The First Live Non-Sporting Event it Covered Was a Polka Festival

This sounds bizarre, but it’s true! Discounting sports events coverage, the very first live event the network covered was the 1973 Pennsylvania Polka Festival.

Number Seven: It Intimidated Several Movie Studios

Paramount, Warner, and MCA were fearful that the network was tearing away too many cinephiles from theaters, and so they teamed up with Viacom to create Showtime and The Movie Channel to rival the network.

Number Six: It Paid $40 Million for What?

According to HBO employee Bill Mesce, the network paid a whopping $40 million for the right to air Ghostbusters in the mid-’80s. At the time, networks would pay studios more money depending on how big of a hit the film was, and Ghostbusters was such a hit that the network went to extreme lengths to get it.

Number Five: It’s Responsible for an Emmy First

Before 1999, there were no cable drama television series that had been nominated for a Best Drama Series Emmy. With the introduction of The Sopranos, HBO changed this. The hit show was nominated for 16 Emmys after its first season.

Number Four: It Was Hacked by an Angry Customer

One John MacDougall was incensed by the thought that he had to both pay for a satellite dish and for access to HBO when he decided to speak out. MacDougall, who was a dish dealer at the time, ended up interrupting an HBO presentation to broadcast the message “$12.95/month? No Way!”

Number Three: Before There Was Oz, There Was Maximum Security

Many people think that Oz was the networks’ first prison series, but this isn’t actually the case. In 1984, the network aired Maximum Security, which was filmed in a prison in Los Angeles.

Number Two: It Almost Dropped Game of Thrones

After watching the first rendition of the pilot in 2009, executives were not impressed. However, after the show’s producers made a revised pilot, they decided to pick it up. We’re guessing they’re glad they decided to give it a second chance.

Number One: It Said No to Mad Men

However, there are some extenuating circumstances behind this decision. The network really wanted David Chase (creator of The Sopranos) to produce the series instead of Matthew Weiner. Chase opted to leave the world of television altogether, and HBO rejected Weiner. Woops. We hope you enjoyed our list of 15 things you didn’t know about HBO!