Discovery Warner Brothers
This week, HBO Max faded to black — and was reborn as Max. But still, many people wonder: Why did Warner Bros. decide to sequel? Discovery name change?
After all, HBO remains a solid gold brand representing high-quality, decades-old original TV shows, from “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to “Game of Thrones” and “Succession.” Meanwhile, Max, as observers have pointed out, is a very generic name from a brand point of view. (Note that the TwitterMax account belongs to Instacart founder Max Mullen, while on Instagram it is maintained by hockey star Max Domi, forward for the Dallas Stars.)
Here are the two primary reasons why Warner Bros. Discovery excludes HBO from HBO Max with a reboot:
- To indicate a broader programming mix: HBO Max was positioned as the successor to HBO, but from the start it included more than just what was on HBO. With the Max, WBD has stuffed home a slew of non-fiction by old Discovery Communications — the Max features 35,000 hours of content, more than double the lineup on HBO Max. Announcing the new name last month, CEO David Zaslav said the company’s goal is to allow “every family member … to see whatever they want at any time.” In a much-discussed slide of WBD’s Q2 2022 earnings report (see below), when it first announced the plan to merge HBO Max and Discovery+, the company said HBO Max has a “male skew” with an emphasis on scripted content, while Discovery+ has a “female skew” with unscripted content. Anyway, the thinking was, Max’s new name was needed to reflect that it’s a place where you can watch not only “Euphoria” and “Barry,” but also things like “90 Day Fiancé,” “Jonathan and Drew Scott’s Royal Brothers episodes,” and a week. Shark.And while HBO no longer bears the service’s name, it retains a prominent placement in the Max, including a presence at the top of the home screen alongside the “Series,” “Movies,” and “New & Notable” categories.
- To make your flagship stream feel more “family friendly”: Warner Bros. Discovery executives ultimately felt that the HBO name was somehow restricting HBO Max’s uptake among families with children. “We all love HBO, a brand that has been built over five decades” to represent “exciting, groundbreaking adult entertainment,” WBD President of Streaming JB Perrette said at the Max’s launch event in April. But this isn’t exactly a place where parents would eagerly drop their kids off…not surprisingly, it would be [kids’ content] A category that hasn’t fulfilled its true potential on HBO Max”. The new Max includes a Kids profile (which by default only allows access to content with ratings of PG and TV-PG or lower) on the splash screen for all new subscribers.
See also: Max Launch: All the TV shows and movies coming to the expanded streaming service
Despite this, Perrett has revealed that senior executives “vehemently discussed” the name change. They’ve looked fairly briefly at the various alternatives that could include Warner or could include WB or could include [HBO] brand,” he told reporters last month. “And we felt like that was kind of unnecessary. We had the Maxi, which was short and tight. He says something global. Yes, the risk was in the end that it might be less possessable because it’s such a common word. But the flip side is that it made it very accessible and easy. And when we honestly found ourselves talking about the service, the acronym was always “Max”. We didn’t even say “HBO”; We were just saying, “He’s on Max.”
Max launched in the US on Tuesday, May 23, with what appear to be only minor technical issues, aside from several users (depending on device platform) needing to manually download and sign into the new Max app. Warner Bros. announced. Discovery also said it would reverse the move — made in the middle of the WGA’s ongoing writers’ strike — to bring writers and directors together on movie listings on the new service.
Of course, we still have to see how effective HBO Max’s transition to Max will be in achieving WBD’s goals of attracting and retaining a broader subscriber base.
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