Brow Beat

HBO Is Pulling Out of the Porn Business

The internet is for porn, so HBO’s isn’t needed.

Screengrab from HBO's Real Sex, showing a woman reclining on a couch.
HBO’s Real Sex, also known as “the 60 Minutes of sex.”
HBO

HBO will now limit its soft-core porn to Game of Thrones and Westworld. According to the Los Angeles Times, HBO “quietly” dropped all of its erotic adult content earlier this summer, including the sexually explicit reality shows and documentaries it was once known for.

It’s content that was once a major draw for the premium cable channel in the days before the internet. In the ’90s, subscribers wanting access to erotic content but too ashamed to subscribe to adult channels or pay-per-view porn could subscribe to HBO and pretend it was for The Larry Sanders Show. HBO and its sister channel Cinemax—or “Skinemax”—became known for soft-core erotic movies and documentaries like Real Sex, which ran from 1992 to 2009 and was dubbed “the 60 Minutes of sex.” In 1995, its reality series Taxicab Confessions, in which hidden cameras captured the late-night activities of passengers, won an Emmy for outstanding informational series.

But these days, those seeking sexually explicit material don’t need HBO as a cover—all they need is an internet connection and maybe some window cover. HBO stopped producing erotic content in recent years, but its adult programming was still available through late-night reruns and HBO Go. A representative told the Times that decisions to remove the content are unrelated to AT&T’s acquisition of HBO, in case you were wondering. “Over the past several years HBO has been winding down its late-night adult fare … 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.”

In other words, the internet is for porn. HBO is just for prestige drama with explicit sex scenes, full-frontal nudity, rape, necrophilia, orgies, and robot sex.