The streaming service was named by AT&T CEO John Stankey and WarnerMedia’s former chairman Bob Greenblatt to promote the brand’s premium HBO content, but the service includes a lot more than that.
According to CNBC, a number of WarnerMedia executives found the HBO Max name confusing, and they still do.
“It sounds like ‘supersized’ HBO,” said one executive who left WarnerMedia last year. “I think it’s still unclear how it’s different from HBO unless you’re familiar with the product. It was a typical AT&T decision.”
At the time the service launched, there was even more confusion since HBO Go and HBO Now still existed as streaming products that carried only HBO content. Those services were ultimately replaced by HBO Max.
At launch, HBO Max consisted of mostly HBO programming, but there is now a myriad of content that has no real association with the HBO brand. The service has found success with original hits like The Other Two, a reboot of the 2007 CW series Gossip Girl, and the DC Comics coming-of-age superhero drama Titans. None of these titles originated with HBO.
HBO Max includes a lot of children’s programming, which also strays from the original services brand. The addition of Discovery originals from channels like HGTV, Food Network, TLC, and Animal Planet would take the brand even farther away from its original roots if there’s some sort of bundled super-app with discovery+.
“It’s really our cable bundle. It makes more sense for HBO to live as a sub-brand of a renamed service,” said one current WarnerMedia executive. “This can all be fixed. David (Zaslav) will have a chance to fix it.”
Discovery CEO David Zaslav has not indicated whether the new combined company will merge Discovery and HBO content into the same platform. AT&T officials indicated during their 3Q 2021 Earnings Call on Thursday morning that they expect the deal will be approved by the first quarter of 2022.
HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-supported plan for $9.99 and ad-free plan for $14.99. HBO Max without ads also includes features like the ability to download offline and 4K streaming.
They also will get Max Originals that aren’t available to HBO channel subscribers, like “The Flight Attendant” (Kaley Cuoco), “Love Life” (Anna Kendrick), as well as reboots to “Sex In The City” and “Gossip Girl.”