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Why is HBO Max Turning Its Back on Cartoons from Boomerang?

Ben Bowman

HBO Max is The Streamable's choice for Best Streaming Service of 2022, but there are some signs the service may be headed in the wrong direction.

When HBO Max lived under AT&T, corporate leadership seemed content to let it exist as its own island. Sure, the content was expensive, but the HBO name meant prestige, critical acclaim, popularity, and awards. In late 2020, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar executed “Project Popcorn” - a daring choice to put future WarnerMedia movies on HBO Max on the same release date as theaters. It infuriated filmmakers but sent subscribers racing to the service.

Since Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav now controls HBO Max, the service isn’t looking like the thoroughbred it once was. Content is vanishing from the platform. Budget cuts are widespread. The company’s CNN+ platform was shot down within a month of its launch. And some easy improvements aren’t coming to pass.

HBO Max and Kids

Since its inception, HBO Max has lagged its competitors in the children’s department. It does have some great content like a “Sesame Street” library, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, and “Batman: The Animated Series.” But Warner Bros. Discovery has an untapped resource it could use at any time: Boomerang.

Boomerang is a linear TV network, but it also has an SVOD version available for US$5.99 / 月.

The service is home to lots of classic animated content like “The Smurfs,” “Popeye,” “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” “The Flintstones,” “Yogi Bear,” “The Jetsons,” “Jonny Quest,” and “Droopy Dog.”

While today’s kids may not get the same thrill from a 60-year-old cartoon, adding the Boomerang library to HBO Max would make the service more appealing just from the volume of content. Children are an important driver of subscriptions since they tend to watch the same shows over and over again. Netflix gets kids on board with hits like “CoComelon” and “PJ Masks.” Disney+ has that huge animated library and multi-season hits like “Doc McStuffins.” Paramount+ has a giant Nickeolodeon library including “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “PAW Patrol.” In comparison, HBO Max’s library is thin.

The strange thing is that the HBO Max library does overlap with Boomerang a bit. Both services have Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo. So why not consolidate them?

It’s also notable that Boomerang is available as an Amazon Prime Video channel, while HBO Max famously ditched the platform, throwing 5 million subscribers for a loop.

As families look to stretch their budgets, consolidated services hold greater appeal. It’s easier to stay within a handful of streaming ecosystems instead of opening a dozen apps to find something to watch. HBO Max would be wise to absorb Boomerang, just as it would make sense for Paramount+ to fold in Noggin and Showtime.

We also know that Zaslav plans to merge HBO Max with discovery+ to create one mega-app. It seems strange if the plan for consolidation doesn’t include a minor player like Boomerang, however. Is there really value to having a standalone streamer with a partially overlapping library to a flagship service?

Zaslav has the power to supercharge HBO Max or to derail its momentum. Absorbing Boomerang seems like an easy win.

Boomerang

Boomerang is a video on-demand service offering cartoons like “Bugs Bunny,” “Tom & Jerry,” “The Looney Tunes,” “Scooby-Doo,” and more. There are over 5,000 episodes from the libraries of Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, as well as MGM’s animated library and new original content.

For maximum flexibility, we recommend subscribing to Boomerang as an Amazon Prime Video channel.

In 2017, Boomerang launched its streaming service. As of 2018, the Boomerang Network is available to about 38.3 million pay TV households in the United States.

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