Since HBO Max launched on May 27, 2020, the streaming service has crawled to the top of the streaming wars—beating out major competitors like Disney+ and Netflix to stand among the most successful services for home entertainment.
The success wasn’t new though. HBO launched nearly half a century ago on November 8, 1972, and has consistently stood as the leading provider of prestige television with critically acclaimed shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, True Detective, and Game of Thrones.
Now the service is coming upon hard times—with the recent challenges surrounding the AT&T and Discovery mergers with Warner Brothers and several media scandals. Even with that, the company is still going strong, with nearly 95 million monthly subscribers and several of the most popular TV shows of the moment.
Bloomberg editor Felix Gilette and New York Times reporter John Koblin record this 49-year history in their newest book It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO.
Backing up a Bit
The book sells itself as the definitive story of the history of how one small scrappy television startup became one of the leading voices in modern entertainment.
“HBO’s own behind-the-scenes story is as complex, compelling, and innovative as the dramas the network created, driven by unorthodox executives who pushed the boundaries of what viewers understood as television at the turn of the century. Originally conceived by a small upstart group of entrepreneurs to bring Hollywood movies into living rooms across America,” says the publisher.
“Taking readers into the boardrooms and behind the camera, It’s Not TV tells the surprising, fascinating story of HBO’s ascent, its groundbreaking influence on American business, technology, and popular culture, and its increasingly precarious position in the very market it created.”
Why it’s Important
As The New York Times’ book review states, the book does good following the development and internal drama of the network as it grew from a frat service of male-dominated fantasies into the first auteur television network.
“Both veteran media reporters, Gillette and Koblin provide an exhaustive and only occasionally tedious account of how HBO’s executives, producers, and creators built an indelible brand. The book is full of arresting insights,” says NYT.
“The two beat reporters have spent years covering media for Bloomberg News and the New York Times, and much of the reporting comes from their own incremental stories. Like an HBO show, the book attempts to shape a compelling, emotional yarn out of those headlines,” says The Washington Post.
The book was published on November 1, 2022, by Viking.