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WarnerMedia’s Kilar: No Plans to Change HBO Max Name, Window Content Within Streaming Service

Stephanie Sengwe

When HBO Max launched in May, one of the problems the streaming service faced was differentiation from the other HBO brands that were on the market. There was HBO Go and HBO Now which had already taken foothold, so the debut of another HBO streamer was confusing.

Though WarnerMedia execs have always said HBO Max would cater to the entire demographic in a household, while HBO caters to mainly adults, that distinction just wasn’t clear initially. The company has since retired HBO Go and rebranded HBO Now to just HBO.

Though there has been speculation about renaming HBO Max, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar says the company will be sticking to their guns. “It is absolutely the name we’re sticking with. You’re talking to the guy who came up with the name Hulu, which, what is a Hulu for god’s sakes,” he joked with the New York Times’ Kara Swisher on her Sway podcast.

“People know HBO, but they know it for a certain thing. HBO is prestige programming, nuanced dramas, very high-end production values. That’s how people know a lot of people think about HBO and it’s amazing. However, it’s not nearly as broad as HBO Max. HBO Max is not just about HBO. It’s about DC, Warner Brothers, a lot of different things. And so that takes time to be able to put that in the market.”

With the recent announcement that WarnerMedia would be simultaneously debuting their 2021 film slate on HBO Max and in theaters, Kilar was also asked if the company would ever consider windowing their content as Disney did with Mulan and their $30 Premier Access fee.

“No. We won’t,” he firmly stated. “The reason is very simple: If we can do a great job bringing together all the storytelling we have here and make it available for one simple price and not have any other complication beyond that and you can consume as much as you want, whenever you want, on any device you want, then that means we’ve done the job we need to do for customers….Life is hard enough, why don’t we make things as simple as possible for customers.”

WarnerMedia announced on Dec. 3 that they will be releasing their entire slate of movies simultaneously on HBO Max and in-theaters. For streaming customers, they will be able to watch new release films on HBO Max for one month after their debut.

The news was met with a slew of backlash from theatrical distributors as well as famed director Christopher Nolan.

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