Originally, there were only a few networks on broadcast TV. Viewers had very limited choices, but at least television service was free. As time went on, however, the public began craving more variety in the types of shows they could watch. More channels were created, and cable and satellite TV came along as a means of delivering these channels to consumers. Of course, not all cable channels are created equal. Some, like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz, offer premium programming at a premium price. When these networks first came to be, they struggled for a while to define the type of programming that they should deliver. Though they were originally used to televise hit movies to their subscribers, these channels have gradually been creating more and more original programming. These days, the content produced by some of the premium networks is among the best on TV, as is proven time and again by such indicators as ratings and awards shows.
The first real pioneer of original programming on subscriber networks was HBO. In the 1990s, it began broadcasting original series that became very popular, including The Larry Sanders Show, Oz, and Sex and the City. These programs were able to be unique because the cable network was much less strict about issues like profanity, violence, and nudity—all of which would have kept these shows off regular network TV. The success of some of these original programs spawned more series from HBO including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Entourage, and more. In addition to regular series, HBO also pioneered the concept of the long-form miniseries with its multi-part TV movies like From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, and John Adams. The network was able to work with big names in Hollywood (like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg) to create stories that couldn’t be told in the form of usual movies due to time and budget constraints. Today, some of the most popular TV programming that still draws in viewers to HBO include series like Girls, True Blood, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire.
After HBO began to be successful with its original programming, several of the other subscriber networks took notice and began to produce new programming of their own. Showtime gained new viewers with its early series, which included The Outer Limits and Queer as Folk. Over the years, it has continued to produce successful long-running programs like Weeds, The Big C, and The L Word. Current hits on Showtime include Dexter, Californication, and the winner of the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, Homeland.
While Starz and Cinemax lag behind the other premium networks when it comes to original programming, they have both taken successful stabs at creating their own shows. Spartacus ran for several years on Starz, and the network has a long list of shows currently in development to be launched in the next few years. Cinemax has focused most of its original programming on the adult genre, and its programs like Co-Ed Confidential, Lingerie, and Life on Top have all had long runs. If the programming from any of these networks interests you, but you currently don’t receive the channels, you might want to learn more about getting them through DirecTV from a dish network site.
There is no “lightning in a bottle” secret about what makes some of the original programming on premium channels work so well. The networks have simply found a formula that works. By convincing subscribers to pay for their content, these networks have been able to put more money into creating quality programming. The resulting quality programming cyclically attracts new subscribers. If you are fed up with some of the programs currently being aired on network TV and basic cable, turning to the content produced by these subscriber networks might be a perfect new way for you to get the most out of your TV viewing experience.
Courtney Whitehead loves to watch television wherever she happens to be. She also likes to write about it to share on various blogs.