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Where's HBO News?

Hmm. David Simon says hey, wait, HBO charges for content — and it started doing so in a historical context in which people had gotten all TV for free, free, free for decades. So newspapers should get a clue and start doing the same.

But, this made me wonder: Where’s HBO News? Is it the case that HBO just considers news too far from its core area of expertise? Or is it the case that HBO ran the numbers and decided that serious news won’t attract the kind of audience they need?

Maybe it’s that the market for news is too competitive. Relatively few entities produce engrossing, high-end drama; lots and lots of entities produce news. But, then again, you extend the analogy

network drama : HBO drama :: network news : HBO news

and it’s like, uh, yeah I would watch that.

Any other theories?

April 20, 2009 / Uncategorized


HBO has one absolutely stellar newsmagazine: Real Sports. Is there a paying audience for non-sports news in the same way?

Let me say it again: if every reporter knew their beat, and if every audience knew their subject, as well as the reporters and audience for sports, journalism would be in a much better place right now.

Still, though — I think Real Sports does some of the best real sports journalism, period.

(HBO does have some pretty good documentaries – but I think they’re a little closer to the entertainment wing. Hmm. Documentaries vs. News. Keep thinking about this.)

And yet if you think of journalism at its best as holding up a mirror to a city and exposing its blemishes and beauty marks, The Wire fits the description quite nicely.

I was also going to say HBO Docs sort of fills in the blank in the network drama : HBO drama :: network news : ____ analogy.

Wouldn’t that be PBS news? What you are describing just strikes me as a rehash of what Frontline is doing.

I’m a Frontline fan, but Frontline doesn’t feel like HBO News to me. Not rich enough; not sophisticated enough. It’s kinda the ultimate expression of magazine-style news on TV — not the “it’s not TV, it’s HBO” idea of something truly *different*.

Still, it seems like HBO could clean up with a terrific news show between 7 and 8 pm — when the network news shows close down, instead of watching Jeopardy or a Seinfeld rerun, you get an hour of ad-free supernews, then catch In Treatment.

And do you know what I say? Partner with the New York Times. NYT-TV — presented by HBO.

Part of the problem may be that HBO’s parent company Time Warner also owns CNN. But still — couldn’t CNN get on its game and produce one single awesome hour of serious news for the HBO audience, who doesn’t want to sit around all fucking day watching car chases and celebrity dish?

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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