By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I don’t get why HBO Max is getting rid of the HBO part and just will be Max. Does this make any sense to you? HBO has been around forever and now they don’t like the name?!! What are they thinking? What’s your take on this? — Jake, Portland, Maine.
Jake, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) announced last month that its HBO Max streaming service will be renamed ‘Max’ on May 23. WBD CEO David Zaslav said the new name will better reflect the streamer’s new programming mix of both HBO and Discovery shows.
Since the announcement, I have received several e-mails from readers asking why the change is necessary. They say they prefer HBO and Discovery to be separate because it would be easier to find shows from either service. (While there is no longer an HBO-only streaming service, the Discovery Plus separate service will continue.) A few readers, such as Jake, also can’t understand why Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t seem to understand the power of the HBO brand which has been developed over four decades.
Zaslav, one of the industry’s brightest bulbs, does understand HBO’s legacy, although he may not appreciate it as much as some. But he also understands the ongoing streaming war which has several corporate titans (Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Disney, Comcast/NBC, Paramount) in fierce competition for subscribers and revenue.
The WBD chief has determined a bundle of HBO and Discovery is necessary to better compete with services such as Netflix which has a wide variety of show categories. HBO’s programming may be prestige, but it appeals to a smaller audience than HBO combined with Discovery.
As for the Max name, WBD executives believe that the HBO brand, which represents high-brow TV to some, could be a turn-off for potential Discovery viewers. They hope that the Max label will be more inviting to a larger audience. The thinking is that the HBO fans will stay on board.
Jake, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann
“ HBO’s programming may be prestige, but it appeals to a smaller audience than HBO combined with Discovery.”
That tells me that HBO has superior programming and Discovery sinks to the lowest common denominator.
If you add 2 + 1 you still get 3. So the bottom line would still be HBO subscribers + Discovery subscribers v a combined total and equal the same profit for the company, without wrecking their branding.
The difference is that combined it muddies the two brands. What is it? Is it high quality programs? Is it reality programs?
It seems extremely unlikely that HBO subscribers will watch shows like Dirty Mudder Truckers.
The “HBO Max” name was a mistake made by the original owners, AT&T. It was not their only mistake, which is why they had to sell their ungodly mess of a company to anyone who would buy it, and the Shark Week guy from Discovery was the only one who took the bait. And that is the only reason HBO and Discovery are being mashed up.
Warners has a lot of content – non-prestige, or for kids – that simply doesn’t merit the HBO brand. The Shark Week guy is trying to repair the damage and stop misusing the HBO brand while it still has some cachet left.
I understand your point of view. I just gently disagree.
My wife and I both said the same thing… Max makes us think of Cinemax. Which is not what they should want the first thought to be for this service. They should have called it HBO-Discovery, or done some other completely new name.
The thing about Discovery is that it is no longer superior programming. Now it’s tacky reality shows. Just a bunch of shows like Naked and Afraid, or Moonshiners. That does NOT signal quality. That is much worse than Cinemax.