How to Submit a Show Idea to HBO

Home Box Office (HBO) is an award-winning cable television channel that is broadcast to more than 40 million U.S. subscribers, according to its parent company, Time Warner Inc. The company does not accept unsolicited script outlines or "treatments"; therefore, it is very difficult for writers to be able to present their ideas unless there is some involvement of agents or entertainment lawyers.

What to Do with the Idea

Thoroughly research existing programming and news stories about shows currently in production. The most important aspect of an idea is that it is original. As well as examining the HBO website, visit other television network websites and examine their programming lists. Also use keywords from your idea and conduct Internet searches.

Develop the initial idea into a format that is accepted within the film/television industry. A two- to five-page synopsis, or treatment, needs to be written adhering to specific guidelines. Software programs such as "Final Draft" can be used to assist with this, and free demo version downloads are available for both the Mac and PC.

Copyright the idea so it is protected at latter stages of development. Consider joining an organization such as the Writers Guild Of America for a fee of $20 for five years; membership protects all work that is registered, which essentially gives you the same protection as registering your work with the Library Of Congress.

In order to have the idea presented to HBO or other networks, an online company such as the TV Writers Vault can be used to bridge the gap between you and the network. This particular company offers a 30-day membership for $39.99, but for multiple presentations, the cost increases. It offers information about the industry from an insider point of view.

If this approach is not working and the idea has not been presented to HBO or another desirable network, the other way to proceed is to hire an entertainment attorney or agent and present the copyrighted treatment. Be aware that this is an expensive route; according to entertainment attorney Mark Litwak, "The cost for entertainment attorneys is usually $250 to $450 an hour."

Things You'll Need

  • Because entertainment lawyers and agents are expensive, using a do-it-yourself method to present an idea to HBO is a much-cheaper route. The process can be started with about $60. For the idea to be pitched many times to executives, however, the cost will increase.
Cite this Article