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