Original programming makes the world go round for HBO. The cable powerhouse is investing big in scripted programming in major territories. But it’s still the exports from the U.S. that drive the business.
Here’s a look at the distinctive programs that are among its most watched around the world.
GAME OF THRONES
2011-18, Seasons: 8, Episodes: 73* (six projected for season 8)
“Game of Thrones” has become an epoch-defining series not only for HBO, but also the entire television industry. The show, steered by David Benio and D.B. Weiss from the novel series by George R.R. Martin, has raised the bar on production values and compelling storytelling in a way that transcends genre. Dragons and battles to the death for power are so universal.
2002-08, Seasons: 6, Episodes: 60
The popularity of “The Wire” defies every rule about the types of shows that translate well in overseas markets. David Simon’s character-rich study of urban decay is a uniquely American story with a large cast of mostly unknown actors, although it helped make stars of Idris Elba and Dominic West. But the show’s reputation as one of TV’s all-time great dramatic achievements knows no borders.
BAND OF BROTHERS
2001, Miniseries, Episodes: 10
The heroism and struggles in the European theater World War II were writ large in this epic, mega-budget tribute to the Greatest Generation spearheaded by executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The miniseries has been an evergreen for HBO. It doesn’t hurt that the cast packed with future stars including Damian Lewis, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Donnie Wahlberg, and Michael Cudlitz.
2010, Miniseries, Episodes: 10
The miniseries companion to “Band of Brothers” focuses on the bravery of young Marines during some of the toughest battles of World War II. James Badge Dale, Jon Seda, Rami Malek and Toby Leonard Moore are among the notables who got a career boost by enlisting with executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
SEX AND THE CITY
1998-2004, Seasons: 6, Episodes: 94
Beautiful, fashionable young women looking for love, happiness and occasionally a few kicks in the big city — those are universal themes. Sarah Jessica Parker and the “Sex and the City” gang became cultural icons in many markets for their unfiltered look at relationships from a female point of view. New York looked as a sexy as the ladies in the series spearheaded by showrunners Darren Star and Michael Patrick King.
1999-2007, Seasons: 7, Episodes: 86
“The Sopranos” hit pop culture like an asteroid when it debut in 1999, after creator David Chase endured years of rejection from other networks for his Shakespearean master work set among New Jersey mobsters. The show set the tone for HBO originals and set a high bar for the fleet of anti-hero dramas that followed.
2016-present, Seasons to date: 1 (renewed for season 2). Episodes to date: 10
The ambitious fantasy drama based on the 1973 cult film of the same name emerged as a buzzy hit. “Westworld” also has benefited from HBO’s expanded international platform and ability to roll out simultaneously in dozens of territories. The series spearheaded by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy wrapped a strong first season by co-leading the primetime pack in Emmy noms.