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Title: HBO : brand management and subscriber aggregation, 1972-2007
Author: James, Gareth Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 7423
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2011
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The thesis offers a revised institutional history of US cable network Home Box Office that expands on its under-examined identity as a monthly subscriber service from 1972 to 1994. This is used to better explain extensive discussions of HBO’s rebranding from 1995 to 2007 around high-quality original content and experimentation with new media platforms. The first half of the thesis particularly expands on HBO’s origins and early identity as part of publisher Time Inc. from 1972 to 1988, before examining how this affected the network’s programming strategies as part of global conglomerate Time Warner from 1989 to 1994. Within this, evidence of ongoing processes for aggregating subscribers, or packaging multiple entertainment attractions around stable production cycles, are identified as defining HBO’s promotion of general monthly value over rivals. Arguing that these specific exhibition and production strategies are glossed over in existing HBO scholarship as a result of an over-valuing of post-1995 examples of ‘quality’ television, their ongoing importance to the network’s contemporary management of its brand across media platforms is mapped over distinctions from rivals to 2007. Suggesting much longer institutional continuities and influences for understanding HBO’s success, the thesis outlines the development and influence of these strategies through a critical chronology of the network’s history. In doing so, the thesis aligns with trends for rigorous media histories that consider the origins, long-term precedent and cyclical institutional strategies that govern contemporary industry practices.
Supervisor: Lyons, James Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HBO ; American television ; branding ; film history ; media history