HBO has been around since 1972 and Showtime has been on the air since 1976. Cinemax, nicknamed Skinemax, began it’s run in 1980. Then came The Disney Channel in 1983. Starz came late to the party in 1994.
Growing up, I felt out of the loop for not having of the Premium Cable Channels. I suppose I didn’t miss a whole lot back then, but I remember kids at school talking about Fraggle Rock (1983-1987) on HBO and wishing I could watch the show. And it wasn’t like I could run out and get it on DVD or stream it.
It was around 1988 that Mom got a subscription to The Disney Channel. We watched a lot of old Disney Movies on it like The Parent Trap and That Darn Cat as well as some new programs—including Good Morning Miss Bliss (1988-1989). My favorite new Disney Movie was A Friendship in Vienna (1988)with Jenny Lewis. Mom canceled the subscription in 1990 or so. We never got another Premium Channel while I was living at home.
In the late 90s, The Disney Channel became included with regular Cable and you didn’t have to pay extra for it. In the early 2000s my kids watched a lot of Hannah Montana (2006-2011) and The Wizards of Waverly Place (2007-2012). Not to mention Phineas and Ferb (2007-2015), Kim Possible (2002-2007)and Gravity Falls (2012-2016).
My Uncle Steve subscribed to HBO. Occasionally, I would request that he record a movie for me. I had him record Willow when HBO ran it in 1989. My mother and I did not own a VCR at the time, but that didn’t stop me from starting my own VHS collection. From the late 80s until the Mid-90s we had to get a VCR from the library or watch videos down at Grandma’s house. Mom didn’t get a VCR until 1995, but the record function didn’t work, so all we could do was watch movies we rented from the video store.
Eventually, I moved out and got my own VCR and then DVD player in 1997 and 2000 respectively. I started getting DVDs from the library of my favorite Premium Cable Shows. Now, I pretty much stream whatever I can from Disney + or Hulu or Netflix.
I did, however, subscribe to HBO briefly while Game of Thrones was on. After watching the first couple of Seasons on DVD, I was hooked. I wanted to be part of the conversation and see the shows when they premiered. So, I got a subscription for two months and dropped it. And I did that for the last couple of Seasons.
Here are some of my favorites Premium Cable Channel Shows over the years: HBO gave me Sex and the City (1998-2004), In Treatment (2008-2010), Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Girls (2012-2017), Westworld (2016-2021), Big Little Lies (2017-2019) Chernobyl (2019), Watchmen (2019) and His Dark Materials (2019-2022) . Showtime had Dead Like Me (2003-2004), The L Word (2004-2009), Weeds (2005-2012), The Big C (2011-2013), Shameless (2011-2021), Homeland (2011-2020), The Tudors (2007-2010), The Borgias (2011-2013), Masters of Sex (2013-2016)and The Affair (2014-2019).Starz had Pillars of the Earth (2010), Camelot (2011), Black Sails (2013-2017), Outlander (2014-Present), American Gods (2017-2021) and The Spanish Princess (2019-2020).