From J. Clara Chan:
Warner Bros. Discovery on Wednesday unveiled Max, its refreshed streaming service combining programming from both the original HBO Max streaming service and Discovery+.
Good job, Zaslav, et al. You took the prestige of and brand affection for HBO and turned it into a muck of “Max.” A small part of me hoped that the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO would course-correct away from this graceless endeavor. At the very least, they could have come up with a better name. Even better, they could have kept the HBO Max and Discovery+ apps separate instead of the weird tack of creating this new combination service and keeping Discovery+ around and unchanged.
But grace doesn’t appear to be in their wheelhouse. Like Zapp Brannigan piloting an orbiting restaurant, Zaslav is full steam ahead on seeing what the heck is going to stick to the wall this time.
By removing HBO from Max’s branding, WBD is also hoping to appeal to a wider audience that may have previously turned away from the streaming service due to HBO’s high-brow reputation and higher price point. [WBD’s president, JB] Perrette said removing HBO from the branding was a part of “preserving and protecting the most iconic trailblazing brand in entertainment.”
And yet, they’re still using the style of the old HBO logo in the new Max logo! That filled-in “a” in “Max” bears a striking resemblance to the familiar filled-in “o” in “HBO.” Despite what WBD may say, HBO is still a brand with a large and important audience. This amalgamation doesn’t seem like protection. It feels like a lack of confidence in their new product.
And anyway, I thought the point of Discovery+ sticking around was to appeal to that “wider audience.” What, then, is the point of continuing to offer two separate apps—Discovery+ and (now) Max? I understand why they’re keeping the former around. The HBO catalog probably won’t appeal to those who want an endless supply of reality shows. But surely the inverse is true, as well.
We’ll have one focused streaming service that meets the desires of those who use it and one unfocused mess crammed full of stuff that’s likely to confuse and/or frustrate many. As I wrote last August, it’s going to be unpleasant scrolling past, for instance, a giant banner image of 90 Day Fiancé to get to Succession. That kind of silly experience is nowhere to be found on successful rival services like Disney+.
Way to dilute a strong brand in the name of sticking it to AT&T, guys. I’m sure this new service and pricing 4K resolution content into a more expensive tier won’t lose you loads of previously invested fans.