Seeing satellite transmission as the only viable option to expand HBO's reach, Gerald Levin allocated .5 million to lease transponder space on the Westar 1 satellite for a five-year term. Eastern Time on September 30, 1975, HBO became the first television network to continuously deliver its signal via satellite (as opposed to microwave relay, the industry norm at the time) when it distributed the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier; it was beamed to UA Columbia Cablevision's systems in Fort Pierce and Vero Beach, Florida, and American Television and Communications Corporation's Jackson, Mississippi system, Through the use of satellite, the channel began transmitting separate programming feeds for the Eastern and Pacific Time Zones, allowing the same programs that air first in the eastern half of the United States to air at accordant times in the western part of the country.
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To gauge whether consumers would be interested in subscribing to a pay television service, Time-Life sent out a direct-mail research brochure to residents in six U. Time-Life later conducted a test in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in which salesmen presented the concept of a pay cable channel to residents by offering free service for the first month and a refundable installation fee; half of residents surveyed in the test expressed interest in purchasing the conceptual service.ffice," although the name was originally intended as a working title in order to meet deadlines to publish research brochures for the new service, with the belief that management would come up with a different name later.
Originally, Home Box Office was to debut on a Service Electric cable television system in Allentown; in order to avoid blackouts for NBA games that it was set to televise (Allentown was within the NBA's designated blackout radius for the Philadelphia 76ers' market area, under rules that the league had in effect at the time to protect ticket sales), Time-Life agreed to an offer by Service Electric president John Walson to launch the channel on its system in Wilkes-Barre (outside of the 76ers' DMA, in northeastern Pennsylvania).
In the summer of 1971, while on a family vacation in France, Charles Dolan began to think of ideas to make Sterling Manhattan profitable.
He came up with the concept for a cable-originated television service, called "The Green Channel." Dolan later presented his idea to Time-Life management; though satellite distribution seemed only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time-Life to back him on the project. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed (approximately 99%) opposed the idea; 4% of those polled in a second survey, conducted by an independent consultant, said they were "almost certain" to subscribe to such a service.
Because of the cost of HBO (which is the most expensive of the U. premium services, costing a monthly fee as of 2015 between $15 and $20 depending on the provider), many Americans only view HBO programs through DVDs or in basic cable or broadcast syndication – months or even years after these programs have first aired on the network – and with editing for both content and to allow advertising, although several series have filmed alternate "clean" scenes intended for syndication runs.
In 1965, Charles Dolan – who had already done pioneering work in the commercial use of cables and had developed Teleguide, a closed-circuit tourist information television system distributed to hotels in the New York metropolitan area – won a franchise to build a cable television system in the Lower Manhattan section of New York City.However, HBO's launch came without fanfare in the press, as it was not covered by any local or national media outlets.In addition, the city manager of Wilkes-Barre declined an offer to attend the launch ceremony, while Time Inc. Richard Munro was unable to attend as he was stranded in traffic while trying to exit Manhattan on the George Washington Bridge on his way to Wilkes-Barre.As of July 2015, HBO's programming is available to approximately 36,493,000 households with at least one television set (31.3% of all cable, satellite and telco customers) in the United States (36,013,000 subscribers or 30.9% of all households with pay television service receive at least HBO's primary channel), HBO subscribers generally pay for an extra tier of service that includes other cable- and satellite-exclusive channels even before paying for the channel itself (though HBO often prices all of its channels together in a single package).However, a law imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that cable providers allow subscribers to get just "limited" basic cable (a base programming tier that includes local, and in some areas, out-of-market broadcast stations and public, educational, and government access channels) and premium services such as HBO, without subscribing to expanded service (Comcast is the only major provider to have purposefully offered the network in such a manner utilizing this law, as it offered a bundled cable/Internet package that included limited basic service and HBO from October 2013 to July 2014, or January of the latter year in some markets).HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service (basic or premium) in the United States, having been in operation since November 8, 1972.