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Jon Stewart will work with HBO: What does it mean for the network?

Stewart will reportedly create short content for the network. With big hits like 'Game of Thrones' and shows that are struggling like 'True Detective,' where does the cable channel stand right now?

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    Jon Stewart attends the 2012 Emmy Awards.
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With the news that HBO has made a deal with Jon Stewart for the former “Daily Show” host to create short content for the network, HBO has added another star to its lineup. 

Stewart will reportedly create digital pieces that will be available on such platforms as HBO’s HBO Go and HBO Now platforms. The content will reportedly be about current happenings in the world.

The former “Daily Show” host joins his former “Daily” colleague, John Oliver, at the network – Oliver is the host of HBO’s popular news show “Last Week Tonight.”

Bringing on Stewart and Oliver represents an attempt by HBO to establish themselves in the news arena, and one that has worked well in terms of pop culture visibility so far with Oliver, whose YouTube videos of show segments rack up millions of views as Stewart’s monologues for “Daily” once did. It's hard to imagine any content produced by the popular Stewart won't be another win for the network.   

Right now, HBO and other subscription cable networks like Showtime and Starz have characteristics of both traditional network TV and the streaming services like Netflix and Hulu that have grown so popular. Unlike some of the streaming services, HBO, for example, still airs an episode a week of its acclaimed programs such as “Tonight” or “Game of Thrones.” However, it airs fewer episodes of its shows, with its most popular program, “Thrones” usually airing for 10 episodes a season as opposed to the network model of airing a program for what can be 20-odd episodes. Some critics say this can increase the quality of a program, as writers have more time to work on installments of the show.

With early, buzzy shows like “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos,” HBO long ago established itself as a force in pop culture. But where does it stand now? “Thrones” is unquestionably its strength. In addition to becoming the most popular show ever aired by the network, the program recently became the first fantasy show to win the prestigious Emmy Award for best drama TV show, and ratings continue to be great. The program is not without its problems, however – controversial sexual themes depicted throughout the show’s run and especially last season have angered some fans. 

HBO’s other strong programs currently include the comedy “Veep,” which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and is regularly an awards season favorite, as well as “Silicon Valley,” another comedy that has been well-received by critics and performs even better in the ratings than “Veep.”

The network has had a few stumbles lately, however. After the first season of the drama “True Detective” aired, the show became a top priority for many TV fans, but the second season, which aired this past summer, was overwhelmingly negatively received by critics and fans alike. And a new program, a comedy that starred Jack Black and was titled “The Brink,” was recently canceled by HBO. 

But another new comedy, the program “Ballers” starring Dwayne Johnson, seems to have done well for the network and a new show titled “Westworld” is scheduled to debut on HBO sometime next year. The program is based on the movie of the same name and its sci-fi premise has caught the interest of some industry watchers. If the show hits it big, it could be another “Thrones”-level hit.

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