Yet the cancellation of Joey should not be seen as a surprise. The truth is, most television shows fail and hits are few and far between. The television business, like most, if not all, media businesses, is deeply rooted in insecurity. To minimize this anxiety, commercial network executives typically follow certain routines and conventions, which have a significant influence on what ultimately winds up on TV screens across the nation. One industry maxim can be summed up in two words: avoid risk. The result, too often, is a lack of innovation and highly original programming (Butsch, 2003). Yet amidst this symbolic ocean of sameness stands HBO. As the pay TV network puts it (and as this book aptly appropriates it for its title), “It’s not TV, it’s HBO.” Drawing primarily from a political economic perspective, this chapter will explore how HBO’s structural advantages facilitate the production of programming that distinguishes the premium channel from commercial television. I argue that subscriber-backed HBO has generally had the capacity to show greater respect for its audience than advertising-supported networks by more often not merely giving viewers what they are willing to watch (Magder, 2004), but what they really want to watch. Yet this chapter also examines the likelihood that HBO will be able to continue to separate itself from its commercial counterparts as we enter the “post-television” age. Adapting to quickly changing conditions, will HBO still live up to its slogan or see the phrase become fodder for

mockery? Then again, maybe HBO will mutate into a considerably different vehicle of entertainment.