A little more than a year after the merger that created Warner Bros. Discovery, the entertainment conglomerate has officially unveiled changes to its premiere streaming platform. HBO Max relaunched as simply Max. It’s the latest move in an industry that appears to still be going through some growing pains.
“Notwithstanding the fluidity of the streaming market at the moment, many of the decisions being made were inevitable and should not be a surprise. For instance, Disney would eventually need to reconcile Comcast’s 2/3rd equity stake in Hulu based on its need to create more strategic alignment among its multiple streaming platforms and Comcast’s right to compel Disney to take over its stake as of 2024. Warner Discovery’s restructuring and rebranding campaign (e.g., HBO Max to Max) was an inevitable pivot based on the AT&T’s failed acquisition turned spinoff debacle of Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) which left WBD with more than $50B in debt from the transaction along with falling into the crosshairs of DC antitrust regulators.”
So this streaming service is what industry observers expected when Warner Bros. Discovery was created over a year ago. Now, you might remember that HBO’s owner, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery, Inc. And it was expected back then that this new company was going to create this larger streaming service just to put all their material in one place. So Max brings together HBO Max stuff – which is HBO originals, the DC Universe, Warner Bros. films, with Discovery+ material from platforms like TLC, HGTV and the Discovery Channel.
And the company also promises an average of more than 40 new programs or seasons of shows every month. So that includes a new “Harry Potter” series and a spinoff of “The Big Bang Theory.” And even though there’s a writers strike, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav says it’s not going to impact this launch that much, at least now, because they have a lot of content that they’ve already produced in advance.
INSKEEP: OK, so they’re making this consolidation at a time where streaming services have grown enormously but have now been under a little bit of stress. How does the cost of this compare with what people were getting before?
DEGGANS: Well, if you have HBO Max, for example, the pricing may seem the same. But there’s some important differences for media nerds. So if you’re already subscribed to HBO Max, today, you either automatically update to Max or you’ll be asked to download an updated app. Discovery+ subscribers can stay on that service, or they can move over to Max. And there’s going to be three tiers of service. So you can have a super cheap version with ads at about $10 a month. You can have a version without ads for about $16 a month, which is about what you pay for the top level of HBO Max right now. And they’ve created a top-level subscription called ultimate ad-free that has higher resolution and sound for about $20 a month. And of course, there’s a yearly fee, an annual fee, that would be a little bit cheaper.
INSKEEP: Is this heading in the direction of the old cable TV model where you essentially pay one price and you get a whole bunch of channels?
DEGGANS: It does feel a little like that. They’re positioning Max as a more family friendly, broad-based service than HBO Max. And I think that’s one reason why they dropped HBO’s name, which is often associated with more adult-oriented content. And these changes position them so they can better compete against the bigger streaming companies like Netflix and Disney+.
INSKEEP: But what effect do you think this is going to have on the broader media landscape?
DEGGANS: Well, you know, I wonder about HBO’s brand, for example, which has stood at the forefront of cutting-edge TV for decades, from “Oz” and “The Sopranos” to “Game Of Thrones” and “Succession.”
More Than Twice the Content: Max comes out of the gate with 35,000-plus hours of programming, more than double what was on HBO Max. That’s largely thanks to hundreds of shows being added from HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID, Magnolia Network and other legacy Discovery networks. The additional content includes seasons of “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” “Chopped,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Fixer Upper,” “Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines” and more.
More Stable Performance With a New Video Playback Experience: Max runs on a newly rebuilt code base to provide a more consistent and stable performance across all devices, according to Saxena, who says the merged Max combines the best elements of both HBO Max and Discovery+. “Discovery+ was built only two years ago, so it has a very robust platform,” Saxena says. “HBO Max had some performance issues.” About 50% of Max uses existing code from one of the predecessor platforms, while the other 50% is new, he says. The app’s new video playback experience is designed to deliver “smooth and cinematic video,” according to WBD.
Simplified Navigation: Overall, Max has streamlined categories, improved content details pages, dedicated brand hubs and thematic content rails to make finding content and discovering new TV shows and movies faster and easier. While HBO is getting dropped from the name of the service, the top of the connected TV menu features a dedicated HBO tab to emphasize that it’s still a core part of the service. The left-hand rail of the Max UI on TVs has just four items (search, home, My Stuff and settings) — whereas HBO Max had 45, including on submenus. In addition, on certain platforms, Max features an easier sign-in process that lets you scan a QR code or use Wi-Fi-based sign-in features.
New Personalization Features: In HBO Max, content recommendations were featured only on the home screen. Max expands that to provide personalized content recommendations for each user profile across the whole service, based on viewing activity (like HBO Max, Max does not include user ratings at this point). In addition, after you finish a show or TV season, a new end-card recommendation (which WBD calls the “genre outro”) will suggest other content to watch.
More Prominent Kids Experience: Max offers a default kids profile for new subscribers along with accompanying parental controls, including the ability to limit content by ratings, to lock access to adult profiles; and to prevent kids from exiting a kids’ profile. By default, kids’ profiles are set to allow access only to content with PG and TV-PG ratings or lower.
New Download Experience for Offline Viewing: According to WBD, Max features a new download experience that aims to address problems in HBO Max, which didn’t always work reliably.
OnMyWay Is The #1 Distracted Driving Mobile App In The Nation!
OnMyWay, based in Charleston, SC, The Only Mobile App That Pays its Users Not to Text and Drive.
The #1 cause of death among young adults ages 16-27 is Car Accidents, with the majority related to Distracted Driving.
OnMyWay’s mission is to reverse this epidemic through positive rewards. Users get paid for every mile they do not text and drive and can refer their friends to get compensated for them as well.
The money earned can then be used for Cash Cards, Gift Cards, Travel Deals and Much, Much More….
The company also makes it a point to let users know that OnMyWay does NOT sell users data and only tracks them for purposes of providing a better experience while using the app.
The OnMyWay app is free to download and is currently available on both the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android @ OnMyWay; Drive Safe, Get Paid.
Download App Now – https://r.onmyway.com
Sponsors and advertisers can contact the company directly through their website @ www.onmyway.com