Warner Bros. Discovery unveils revamped HBO Max without the HBO name
It’s entertainment… to the Max.
That’s what Warner Bros. Discovery is offering as the media conglomerate announced Wednesday at a press event the long-awaited rebranding of its four year-old streaming service as it removes the “HBO” from its name and merges its content with those of Discovery Plus. The new Max launches May 23.
The merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus was expected for some time after the $43 billion merger of their respective parent companies, Warner Media and Discovery Communications two years ago. According to reports, there are three tiers of pricing: $9.99 per month with ads; $15.99 per month without ads; and $19.99 for an “ultimate ad-free experience”, which means four concurrent streams, up to 4K Ultra HD resolution and Dolby Atmos sound quality. The first and second tiers stream in regular HD (1080p) and Dolby 5.1 surround sound. DirecTV satellite subscribers would continue to receive Max with their subscriptions though under what tier isn’t known at this time; HBO Max and DirecTV were once under the same corporate umbrella as AT&T.
With the addition of a 4k stream, Max is adding more content you can watch in the format, including Game Of Thrones and Harry Potter movie franchise.
The decision to remove the HBO branding is obvious – the name is traditionally associated with higher-quality fare such as The Sopranos, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Succession, and other programs. Discovery also features high-profile series like science documentaries (like it did during the time when it was basically only programming the Discovery Channel), but also schlocky reality programming such as TLC’s Sex Sent Me To The ER. To be fair, HBO Max has featured some schlock itself (see Velma.)
“HBO is not TV. HBO is HBO. It needs to stay that way, which is why we will privilege it in the product experience and also not push it to the breaking point by forcing it to take on the full breadth of this new content proposition,” said WBD president and CEO of streaming and games JB Perrette. Interestingly enough, Discovery Plus remains as a standalone service, maintaining the $6.99/per month commercial-free options and the $4.99/per month with ads.
Max plans to introduce a new interface for smoother playback of video; easier-to-use- navigation, and giving more attention to kids programming, where they can create their own profiles with parental controls, of course.
Content wise, the streamer plans to introduce several new Harry Potter shows, based on the books written by J.K. Rowling, a Thrones prequel, and a Big Bang Theory sequel with a new cast (similar to what Saved By The Bell did a few years after the original ended), but little else was announced on this front. As you know, HBO Max has yanked content from the platform in recent months as its parent company is cutting back.
Warner Bros. Discovery claims 96.1 million subscribers across HBO Max, Discovery Plus, and smaller services.