Though HBO is mostly known for its prestige programming like Game of Thrones and Last Week Tonight, during the ’80s and ’90s it was known more for constantly re-running movies and specializing in softcore porn. But those days are over; HBO’s adult programming has been taken down and is no longer being aired in late-night slots on the network.
HBO’s adult programming — at least as far as original programming goes — began in 1983 with the “Hookers” episode of the documentary series America Undercover. Though that series wasn’t exclusively adult-related, often covering true crime and news stories, many episodes featured sexual content. America Undercover also led to the spinoff series Real Sex and Taxicab Confessions, both of which frequently featured nudity and explicit sex. (Real Sex even had its own spinoff, Pornucopia, about the adult film industry.)
Though much of HBO’s adult programming is no longer in production, until recently you could find most of it on the HBO Go app and in late-night time slots on the cable channel. In fact, HBO’s famous slogan, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” came from the fact that you could see adult content on HBO, unlike broadcast TV.
HBO’s adult programming was an early draw for subscribers who wanted to watch explicit content without worrying about a subscription to something like The Playboy Channel appear on their cable bills. According to an HBO representative, “While we’re greatly ramping up our other original program offerings, there hasn’t been a strong demand for this kind of adult programming, perhaps because it’s easily available elsewhere.”
Though adult programming is also being removed from HBO’s sister channel, Cinemax — often nicknamed “Skinemax” for its history of showing softcore movies — if you want to relive the glory days of pay TV, don’t worry. HBO’s major competitor, Showtime, still offers its paid subscribers glorious smut. Simply browse to the “After Hours” category on the Showtime app.
Most importantly, though, HBO’s other programming — beloved ongoing series like Game of Thrones — will still offer the explicit sex, nudity and violence we’ve all become accustomed to.