The Ultimate Guide to Streaming 2015's Best TV Shows for Free

Navigation menu

Not in service area
Premium television services in the United States. While the show was critically acclaimed, it was not until The Sopranos premiered in , that the network achieved widespread critical success for an hour-long series. Coming of Age — Sterling Manhattan Cable". The network primarily airs most of its original programs on its main channel after 8: Archived from the original on October 19, Retrieved October 5, — via YouTube. The channel was ultimately deemed a major failure due to low subscribership and limited carriage by cable providers, and ceased operations late that summer.

What's New

Popular Topics

In , HBO's subscriber base expanded greatly as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike that year, as the channel had new programming in its inventory during a period in which the broadcast networks were only able to air reruns of their shows.

In , HBO compared its programming against rival pay television network Showtime, with the slogan "Simply the Best", using the Tina Turner single " The Best " as part of the network's on-air image campaign. Selecciones—which was offered in tandem with HBO, although it operated as a separate service—utilized the second audio program auxiliary channel to distribute its Spanish audio feeds.

Taking advantage of HBO's successes, Warner Communications which ironically was part-owner of one of the network's pay-cable competitors, The Movie Channel, from its launch in until joint venture group Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment sold its stake in the channel to Viacom in merged with HBO parent Time Inc.

Show with Bob and David and Arliss. The original programs that HBO has developed since the early s have earned the channel numerous nominations and wins at the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.

Beginning with the launch of its first one-hour dramatic narrative series Oz , HBO started a trend that became commonplace with premium cable services. While the show was critically acclaimed, it was not until The Sopranos premiered in , that the network achieved widespread critical success for an hour-long series. The Sopranos —centering on mob patriarch Tony Soprano James Gandolfini and his family—received Emmy nominations during its six-season run, resulting in 21 wins, two of them for Outstanding Drama Series.

That year also saw the debut of the comedy series Sex and the City , which was based on the book series of the same name by Candace Bushnell ; over the course of its six-season run, the show—centering on the friendship and romances of four New York City women [46] —received 54 Emmy nominations, winning seven, including one win for Outstanding Comedy Series. In , HBO became the first U. In , HBO debuted Six Feet Under and in The Wire , [49] which, although not surpassing The Sopranos in viewership success, matched its critical acclaim and further cemented HBO's reputation as a network that produced quality programming.

The network saw three more hit series in the s with Game of Thrones , based on George R. Martin 's fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire , which earned both critical and viewer praise; Girls , a comedy series created by series star Lena Dunham ; and True Detective , an anthology -style series—structured to feature a different cast and setting within each season's storyline—which initially saw established film actors Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in its lead roles.

On August 13, , HBO announced its re-entry into children's programming, when it reached a five-year programming and development deal with Sesame Workshop.

Although struck with the intent to having the show remain on PBS in some fashion, the nonprofit production company reached the deal due to cutbacks resulting from declines in public and private donations, distribution fees paid by PBS member stations and licensing for merchandise sales. Justice Department filed in to attempt to block the acquisition. Stankey also stated that HBO would have to find a way "to move beyond 35 to 40 percent penetration to have this become a much more common product.

In , HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexed services to cable customers as companions to the main network, offering additional channels of the two services to three TeleCable-operated systems in Overland Park, Kansas , Racine, Wisconsin and the Dallas suburbs of Richardson and Plano, Texas.

The following year, research from ACNielsen revealed that multiplex delivery of HBO and Cinemax had a positive impact on subscriber usage and attitudes, including aiding in the retention of pay cable subscriptions by its subscribers. The HBO multiplex would later expand in December , with the launch of HBO Family, focusing on family-oriented feature films and television series aimed at younger children.

In May , two more channels launched: Depending on the service provider, HBO provides up to thirteen multiplex channels—seven hour multiplex channels, all of which are simulcast in both standard definition and high definition —as well as a subscription video-on-demand service HBO on Demand.

Off-the-air maintenance periods of a half-hour up to two hours occur during overnight periods at scattered times on each channel once each month. The respective coastal feeds of each channel are usually packaged together though most cable providers only offer the east and west coast feeds of the main HBO channel, as well as HBO2 in some cases , resulting in the difference in local airtimes for a particular movie or program between two geographic locations being three hours at most.

On August 1, , HBO launched Cinemax, a companion movie-based premium channel [75] created as HBO's answer to fellow movie-oriented pay service The Movie Channel which operated as a standalone service at the time. Unlike HBO, Cinemax maintained a hour schedule from its launch.

The channel succeeded early on partly due to its reliance on movie classics from the s to the s—with some more recent films mixed in—that would be presented uncut and without commercial interruption, at a time when cable subscribers only received about three dozen channels due to limited headend channel capacity. In most cases, cable operators sold Cinemax and HBO as a single package, usually offered at a discount for customers that chose to subscribe to both channels.

In its early years, Cinemax carried music specials and some limited original programming such as Second City Television and Max Headroom in addition to movies, but the network subsequently become known among its subscribers for airing softcore adult films and series during the late night hours that contain strong sexual content and nudity broadcasts of such programs are restricted from airing on the main Cinemax channel before Eastern Time , [76] [77] and eventually began producing original action series in August The main channel first began broadcasting in high definition on March 6, HBO launched the VOD service in an effort to allow subscribers access to the channel's programming on their own schedules, thereby reducing the frequency in which viewers were unable to find a program they would like to watch as well as limiting cancellations to the service for that same reason.

HBO on Demand features a rotating selection of films, specials and series, with new titles added each Friday alongside existing program titles held over from the previous one to two weeks. The standard definition and high definition versions of the HBO on Demand service are available on most cable and satellite providers, delivered to customers who subscribe to the linear HBO channels at no additional charge.

On February 18, , HBO launched HBO Go, a service that carries 1, hours of program content available for streaming in standard or high definition, intended as a TV Everywhere service available only to existing subscribers of the linear HBO television channels a requirement necessary to access its content via streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV , and some video game consoles , as well as via its website and mobile apps.

Content available on HBO Go includes theatrically released films as well as HBO original programs, movies, comedy specials, documentaries, sports and late night adult programming. On October 15, , HBO announced plans to launch an over-the-top subscription video on demand service in , which would be distributed as a standalone offering that does not require an existing television subscription to use. New episodes of HBO series are made available for streaming the same day, and usually at the same time, as their original broadcast on the main linear HBO channel.

Apple's App Store features promotions offering free one-month trials or other incentives to subscribe to HBO Now, as the program is in partnership with Apple Inc. HBO's programming schedule currently consists largely of theatrically released feature films—which occupy the majority of its daily schedule—and original series primarily aimed at adults including, as of November [update] , dramas such as Game of Thrones and Westworld , and comedies such as Insecure , Veep , Ballers , Last Week Tonight and Silicon Valley.

In addition, HBO also carries original made-for-TV movies, sports events and sports-centric documentary and magazine series, documentary films, behind-the-scenes specials, and concert and stand-up comedy specials. The network primarily airs most of its original programs on its main channel after 8: Eastern and Pacific Time, although it airs original series and made-for-cable movies as well as certain documentaries during the daytime hours; these programs also air at various times on HBO's multiplex channels.

HBO has long maintained a policy not to run R-rated films on its primary channel between 6: Eastern and Pacific Time; [93] [94] this policy which may have once stemmed from HBO's availability on analog cable tiers, while its multiplex channels generally required a digital cable subscription or at least scrambling remains in place as of [update] , despite the existence of the V-chip and other premium services having incorporated R-rated films onto their daytime schedules starting in the mids.

The policy was also applied to all TV-MA rated programs after the TV Parental Guidelines were implemented on January 1, ; however the main HBO channel began airing a limited amount of TV-MA rated original series, movies and documentaries that contain some strong profanity and violence, but are largely devoid of nudity, and graphic violent or sexual content on weekends before 8: Eastern Time in , as part of its Sunday rebroadcast of the prior Saturday's movie premiere telecast, depending on the length of the film and the scheduling of any HBO original series that air after it.

In , the channel expanded its carriage of R-rated films to as early as 4: Eastern Time, regardless of the day but still on a periodic basis. HBO also does not typically allow most NC rated films to be aired on the primary channel or its multiplex channels. HBO pioneered the free preview concept—which has since become a standard in the pay television industry—in , as part of a plan to increase subscribership of the channel.

Until the mids, on-air promotions featured between programs were replaced and later, merely interspersed with interstitials featuring on-air hosts asking viewers to subscribe to the service. Although participation was voluntary, [98] preview events are carried by most major and some smaller pay television providers the number of providers and the providers that choose to offer the event varies depending on the given free preview period, and may not be carried on all systems owned by a multiple system operator unless at the provider's discretion ; HBO currently offers between three and five preview events each year to participating providers which are normally scheduled to coincide with the premiere of a new or returning original series, and in the past, a high-profile special or feature film.

The network also produces short segments promoting new movies with the cooperation of the film studios that hold releasing rights to the projects. Depending on their length or content, these are either aired as part of the feature segment HBO News formerly titled HBO Entertainment News from to , which airs during extended promotional breaks between programs and runs between three and five minutes, or as part of HBO First Look , a series of documentary-style interstitial specials usually running 15 to 20 minutes in length, with no set schedule that debuted in These segments, particularly episodes of First Look , have also often been included as bonus features on DVD and Blu-ray releases of the films that were profiled many of which have aired on HBO and Cinemax once they reached their pay-cable distribution windows , though broadcasts of these interstitials have begun to be reduced to only a few episodes per year as HBO has focused on its higher-profile, long-form original programming instead and studios have internally produced behind-the-scenes featurettes for their films for exclusive physical and digital media release.

During the "Executive Actions" symposium held by The Washington Post and George Washington University in April shortly after the launch of the HBO Now streaming service , HBO CEO Richard Plepler said that he does not want the network to be akin to Netflix in which users " binge watch " its television shows and film content, saying "I don't think it would have been a great thing for HBO or our brand if that had been gobbled up in the first week[ Since the early s, HBO has produced original programming, which include dramatic and comedic series, in addition to its slate of theatrical films.

However some of its original programs, primarily those produced before , have also been aimed at families or children; most of these type of programs have migrated to HBO Family, though HBO has produced very few newer family-oriented series for either channel since that point.

In a notable example, HBO ventured back into children's programming with its acquisition of the first-run and streaming rights to Sesame Street , a long-running children's television series that had previously aired on PBS for the vast majority of its run, in the aforementioned deal with Sesame Workshop that was announced in August In addition to maintaining rights to films from various distributors, HBO also produces its own made-for-cable movies through HBO Films ; the film division, originally named HBO Pictures, began producing original movies for the network in with the debut of The Terry Fox Story.

Unlike most television films produced for cable television, most of the original movies produced by HBO have featured major film actors over the years, ranging from James Stewart to Michael Douglas. The channel also produces stand-up comedy specials, which were formerly broadcast under the On Location , HBO Comedy Hour and HBO Comedy Half-Hour banners, which periodically premiere on certain Saturday nights when a boxing match or movie is not scheduled during the late prime time slots.

For a time in the early s, HBO produced a concert special almost every other month, featuring major music stars such as Boy George and The Who. After MTV 's successful rollout in , the Standing Room Only series began to produce fewer concerts, but focused more on "world class" music events featuring artists such as Elton John , Tina Turner and Barbra Streisand , as well as fundraisers such as Farm Aid.

As of May , [update] HBO, as well as its sister channel Cinemax, maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with network sister company Warner Bros. Entertainment including content from subsidiaries Warner Bros. The first-run film output agreement with Fox was renewed by HBO for ten years on August 15, with a provision allowing the studio to release its films through digital platforms such as iTunes and Amazon during a film's term of license with the channel for the first time , [] and the Universal output deal was renewed for ten years on January 6, with the exception of certain animated films that HBO can offer to pass over to the Netflix streaming service.

Films to which HBO holds the pay cable rights will usually also run on Cinemax during their licensing term, although some feature films from the aforementioned studios that the two channels have broadcast rights to will make their premium television debut on HBO several weeks before their premiere on Cinemax and vice versa.

During the early years of premium cable, it was not uncommon for multiple pay television services, including HBO, Showtime and The Movie Channel and later, Cinemax , to hold broadcast rights to the same feature films. HBO began purchasing exclusive rights to broadcast individual films in the late s; these gradually expanded to exclusive output deals which are commonplace with North American premium channels to this day , in which a pay service enters into a licensing agreement to broadcast movies from a particular film studio over a period of years.

HBO signed its first major exclusive film output deal with Columbia Pictures in the early s. Films released by Paramount Pictures between mid and late were broadcast on HBO; [] rival premium channel Showtime assumed pay television rights to Paramount-released films in , and held them until , with the rights being turned over to upstart pay service Epix which Paramount and its corporate parent Viacom had partially owned the following year.

HBO has long been known for its telecasts of boxing matches which usually air on Saturday nights every two to three weeks on average , including those shown on its flagship sports program HBO World Championship Boxing. On September 30, , the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier aired on HBO and was the first program on the pay cable network to be broadcast via satellite. That same year , HBO began airing coverage of Wimbledon ; it held contractual rights to coverage of the tennis tournament through , when it lost the rights to sister network TNT owned by Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary.

In , HBO premiered the channel's longest-running program, and its first sports-related documentary and analysis series Inside the NFL , featuring game reviews of National Football League games from the previous week of the league season as well as interviews with players, coaches and team management; HBO canceled the program in February after 30 seasons the program was later acquired by rival premium channel Showtime, which began airing the series in September HBO expanded its boxing slate in September , with the launch of Boxing After Dark , a program which showcases fights from up-and-coming boxing talents.

The network would build upon Inside the NFL with debut of additional sports talk and documentary programs: Race for the Pennant concerning the Major League Baseball season, running from to , Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel which debuted in , On the Record with Bob Costas which debuted in , and was revamped as Costas Now in , ending in , and Joe Buck Live which ran for one season in Many of HBO's documentary series appear under the America Undercover brand, the regular features of which have been Real Sex a late night magazine-formatted series of specials that ran from to , which frankly explored a variety of mainstream and non-mainstream sexual matters [25] and Autopsy.

One of the most notable America Undercover specials was 's Soldiers in Hiding , focusing on homeless veterans of the Vietnam War living in the wilderness, which won the first Academy Award for a cable television service in the Best Documentary category although HBO has had some of its documentaries enter limited theatrical release to qualify for Oscar nominations in later years.

One of its most recent documentaries was Dare to Dream , about the U. HBO's first successful documentary aired in , the six-part series Time Was , which featured host Dick Cavett being inserted into seminal events occurring between the s and the s. In , guided by human rights activist Ansar Burney , an HBO team for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel used a hidden camera to document slavery and torture in secret desert camps where boys under the age of five were trained to race camels , a national sport in the United Arab Emirates UAE.

This half-hour investigative report exposed a carefully hidden child slavery ring that bought or kidnapped hundreds of young boys in Pakistan and Bangladesh, who were then forced to become camel jockeys in the UAE. The report also questioned the sincerity of U.

It also brought worldwide attention to the plight of child camel jockeys in the Middle East and helped the Ansar Burney Trust to convince the governments of Qatar and the UAE to end the use of children in the sport. A Requiem in Four Acts. Also in , documentary artist Lauren Greenfield directed a feature-length film about four young women struggling with eating disorders seeking treatment at the Renfrew Clinic in Florida, called Thin.

The Election of Barack Obama. The film covers Obama's trip to Africa, his presidential primary campaign, the general election and his inauguration. In November , HBO aired a four-part documentary titled Witness , each part of which is devoted to covering photojournalists in four conflict regions: The Rescue Mission of Mr.

Kraus , a documentary about the story of Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, a Jewish couple from Philadelphia who traveled to Nazi Germany in and, with the help of the B'rith Sholom fraternal organization, saved Jewish children in Vienna from likely death in The Holocaust by finding them new homes in Philadelphia. In April , the channel aired the documentary An Apology to Elephants , about the purported abuse and brutal treatment of elephants. Designed as a family-oriented mini-pay service, Take 2 was essentially formatted as an alternative to HBO, without any R-rated program content.

The channel was ultimately deemed a major failure due to low subscribership and limited carriage by cable providers, and ceased operations late that summer. In , [ specify ] HBO launched the premium channel Festival , [] a separate service that was distinctively programmed to provide family-friendly fare, which featured classic and recent hit movies, as well as HBO's original specials which were branded when broadcast on the channel under the banner "Centerstage", which featured stand-up comedy, concert specials and ice skating shows and documentaries.

Festival, whose on-air slogan was Quality Entertainment You Welcome Home , [] had also broadcast collections of feature films featuring a particular movie star known as "Star Salutes". What differed Festival from HBO was that the former channel was programmed as a family-oriented service. Atypical for a premium service, Festival featured edited versions of R-rated movies that were recut in order to fit a PG rating and allowed only high-quality series, specials and movies to be broadcast on the channel's schedule.

As Festival was designed as a mini-pay premium service formatted similarly to Take 2 before it , the cost of a monthly subscription of the channel was also priced lower than that of HBO and Cinemax. Festival provided its subscribers with a color page monthly program guide. However, the channel suffered from insufficient cable carriage as only a few providers carried Festival; as such, it could not compete with then-fellow premium service The Disney Channel , which also maintained a family-oriented programming format that service would convert into a basic cable channel in April Festival would eventually shut down in late [ specify ].

In , HBO created The Comedy Channel, a basic cable channel that featured clips excerpted from stand-up comedy sets, comedic feature films and television series using a programming model similar to the original format of MTV , [36] which launched on November 15 of that year.

The channel competed with another startup comedy-oriented cable channel that debuted the following year, Viacom-owned Ha!: The TV Comedy Network , which focused on reruns of older network sitcoms. Both channels suffered from insufficient cable carriage both Ha! The Comedy Network, which debuted on April 1, ; [] the channel subsequently changed its name three months later to Comedy Central due to confusion and potential legal issues with Canadian broadcaster, the CTV Television Network.

Cannon dropped out of the venture by after the studio took a financial hit following its attempt at a series of larger budget films that did not experience box office success; the unit was then renamed HBO Video. When HBO launched in , its original logo was merely consisted of the "Home Box Office" name and a ticket stub surrounded by a lighted marquee. The original version of its current logo designed by Bemis Balkind was introduced in , using an uppercase bold "HBO" text with a circle inside the 'O', which in turn cuts into the 'B'.

The logo was modified in although it did not completely replace the original version until , with the 'B' and the 'O' becoming full letterforms, albeit continuing to be attached to each other. The simplicity of the logo makes it fairly easy to duplicate, something HBO has taken advantage of many times over the years. The logo became iconic due to a program opening sequence produced in by New York City production firm Liberty Studios , nicknamed "HBO in Space", which was used from September 20, to September 30, A starburst—or "stargate effect"—then occurs following a pan towards a star-filled sky which begins a shorter version of the sequence , unveiling a chrome-plated HBO logo that flies and rotates into view; colored light beams encircle the side of the "O", then flash to a partially animated sequence featuring more lights racing counter-clockwise in its interior on a silver axis, revealing "HBO Feature Presentation" or another program type such as " Standing Room Only ", "HBO Special" or "On Location" in block text, before additional beams sweep across the text and shine, with more flashing into a fade to black.

Most variants of this sequence were discontinued in , except for the feature presentation which was relegated to use only for the main prime time film , " Saturday Night Movie " and "Sunday Night Movie" variants the latter two of which were discontinued in Another well-known HBO program opener, "Neon Lights", began movies airing outside of primetime from November 1, , to September 30, The sequence, set to a synth and electric guitar theme, begins with a purple HBO logo on a film strip with blue, green and pink light rays shooting through it as the strip rotates out of view; the lights shoot through several glowing CG slots until a flash of light hits a field of spheres in varying colors, which zoom out to form a light purple HBO logo overlaid by a cursive magenta "Movie" script against a black background with rows of light purple spheres.

From September to April 1, , HBO used a Pittard Sullivan-designed CGI feature presentation bumper sequence that features a flyover similar to the sequence, starting with the front of a movie theater featuring a marquee that reads "HBO Feature Presentation", and trekking through a country road, a snowy mountain road near a cliff and a desert road respectively passing under a tower, tunnel and tanker truck shaped in the individual letters of the HBO logotype ; this leads into a road in an urban neighborhood with skyscrapers visible in the background that becomes a bridge upon the city's downtown area, and lead to a slowing flyover toward and pan over an HBO logo-shaped lake that starts with several spotlights rapidly turning on and ends with a 3D animation of the "Feature Presentation" text.

The closing animation that is seen both in the full version as well as a shorter version of the sequence seen outside of weekend prime time films and Saturday film premieres, when the longer sequence was used. The sequence was replaced on April 2, —as part of a new graphics package implemented on that date across the HBO multiplex channels—by a much shorter opening sequence designed by Jesse Vartanian who also designed CGI teaser commercials for HBO's premiere telecast of the film Avatar , consisting only of a dark background with faint light auroras around the HBO logo and a simple "Feature Presentation" text animation, accompanied by soft orchestral music.

Another new opening sequence, done by Imaginary Forces, was implemented on March 4, The current intro combines live-action and CGI while also paying homage to the original sequence to the point that the latter can be seen during the new intro.

Unlike other pay television networks including the multiplex channels of sister channel Cinemax , HBO does not brand its programming with on-screen logo bugs of the main network and each respective multiplex channel—although its multiplex channels do display logo bugs during promotional breaks between programs.

As the network was launched in new markets, the HBO brand has been used in several countries. HBO also licenses its programming to air on certain other broadcast, cable channels and video on demand services outside the United States, such as:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the American pay television channel.

For other uses, see HBO disambiguation. List of programs broadcast by HBO. Premium Subscription Television from Time-Life. USA portal Films portal Companies portal. Retrieved November 8, The New York Times. TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 27, Retrieved March 23, Retrieved October 5, Retrieved February 23, — via HighBeam Research.

Retrieved July 12, The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 14, Home Box Office Inc. July 29, — via HighBeam Research. Coming of Age — Sterling Manhattan Cable". Archived from the original on April 12, Retrieved February 1, For pure laughs, viewers can also check out Amazon original Catastrophe 2. The Jinx, a documentary about a New York real estate mogul who may also be a serial murderer, shocked viewers at the start of the year. For drama, the popular choice is Game of Thrones 50 hours , which offers medieval maiming and political intrigue in equal measure.

Its second season earned wide acclaim but a paltry viewership. The marquee Showtime program these days is definitely The Affair 22 hours , a mysterious drama about infidelity told from the conflicting perspectives of the two secret lovers, as well as others. Unlike its competitors, Hulu only offers a scrimpy 1-week free trial during promotions, the trial is extended to two weeks or a month, so keep your eyes peeled.

Each season has a totally new cast of characters, so you can also jump right into the second, which has earned even more positive reviews than the first. You can also watch all of Empire 16 hours , the hip-hop melodrama that became the hottest show on TV in Robot 8 hours , the acclaimed new USA show about a socially inept hacker who gets caught up in a conspiracy to upend the global financial system.

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones.

1. Band of Brothers

Leave a Reply