By Faith Jarrell
Elm Staff Writer
On Wednesday, April 12, Warner Brothers Discovery Inc., the parent company of HBOMax, announced that the streaming service’s name would be changed to “Max” following a merger with streaming service Discovery+ in order to distance themselves from HBO’s prestige label. According to Variety, the streamer’s “edgy” brand association allegedly alienated those who were not alreadt subscribed to the service.
The company’s new website, max.com, states that the streaming service will retain the titles currently on HBOMax, with the addition of “Discovery favorites,” which includes programs from HGTV, Food Network, TLC, and Lifetime.
Despite the company’s wish to make the brand accessible to a wider audience, the renaming will come alongside a change in pricing plans.
Warner Brothers promised current HBOMax subscribers that Max prices will stay the same for now, with the with ads and ad-free options remaining at $9.99 a month and $15.99 a month, respectively, but the company is introducing an “Ultimate Plan.” For $19.99 a month, the plan allows users to stream programming in 4K UHD, use four different devices at once, and download 100 individual programs. Those who already have an HBOMax account do not have to worry about updating their payment plans, as pre-existing customers will also have access to Max.
Another reason for the rebranding is to make the platform more family-friendly, according to a quote that the President and CEO of Discovery Streaming, JB Perrette, shared with Variety.
“Warner Bros. Discovery has some of the best known kids’ characters, animation and brands in the industry. Not surprisingly, the category has not met its true potential on HBO Max. We see this as a meaningful new engagement opportunity,” Perrette said. “Max will better curate our rich history of amazing animation, seminal children’s television and blockbusters the whole family can enjoy, as well as new product features that will prioritize and enhance the kids’ user experience.”
However, the change comes on the heels of a string of cost-cutting measures within Warner Brothers, including the removal of a number of children’s programs, like “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo” and “Summer Camp Island,” from the streaming service.
While Max will have a variety of new programming thanks to the merger with Discovery+, Warner Brothers wants to emphasize that the platform will still have the Emmy-winning shows that HBO is famous for, like “Succession” and “The White Lotus.” Max’s new tagline is “The One to Watch for HBO.”
Upon its announcement, many expressed dissatisfaction with the rebrand.
Twitter user @slowagon said, “This makes no sense to me. HBO is a well established and prestigious brand. Max is a good name for a dog.”
“This is the weirdest rebrand,” Twitter user @capybaroness said. “HBO is an extremely well-known brand that’s associated with some of the best TV shows ever. Was there market research like, ‘Yeah, we’re worried people think our streaming service might have too much good stuff on it?’”
Despite the controversy surrounding the rebrand, HBOMax underwent a series of name changes throughout the 2010s. Previously, the streaming service was separated into two entities — HBO Go and HBO Now — to indicate subscriptions to the service through television providers and outsider subscribers.
The full shift to Max will happen on May 23. Until then, the full extent of the rebrand is unclear.
Caption: The premium cable network HBO will be renamed “Max” after four decades of operation following a merger with Warner Brothers Discovery Inc.
Photo by Liv Barry