HBO Max is con­tent-packed, but con­fus­ing

Times Standard (Eureka) - - LIFESTYLE - By Mark Mes­zoros mmes­zoros@news-her­ald.com @MarkMes­zoros on Twit­ter

You are a con­fus­ing beast, HBO Max — and you were long be­fore your ac­tual ap­pear­ance in late May. And “beast” is right when it comes to con­tent, as you of­fer ev­ery­thing found on your pre­de­ces­sor, HBO Now, as well as a lot of other movies and TV shows made or ac­quired by Warner Bros. and Warn­erMe­dia.

Wan­der­ing through you, one finds HBO hit se­ries “The So­pra­nos,” “Game of Thrones” and “Suc­ces­sion” re­sid­ing along­side a few ex­clu­sives, such as “Love Life”; all the “Harry Pot­ter” movies; some of the films from the DC Ex­tended Uni­verse, such as “Won­der Wo­man”; clas­sic films such as “Cit­i­zen Kane” and “Casablanca”; anime from Stu­dio Ghi­bli and crunchy­roll; all the episodes of net­work TV com­edy hits “Friends” and “The Big Bang The­ory”; and even “Sesame Street.” Se­ri­ously, you’re a lot. But you’re such a strange mix of things that you don’t make a ton of sense.

A big part of the prob­lem is your name. “HBO Max” doesn’t scream “Warner Bros.” — and you cer­tainly want folks to as­so­ciate the ser­vice with that ma­jor Hollywood player, the stu­dio be­hind the “Harry Pot­ter,” DCEU and myr­iad other movies and fran­chises.

Ar­guably worse, your name DOES sug­gest the

in­clu­sion of Cine­max — also a Warner prop­erty and long an HBO sis­ter pre­mium ca­ble of­fer­ing. Yet one thing you DON’T have is Cine­max fare, which is dis­ap­point­ing. (I asked around, and more than one friend as­sumed, as I did, that Cine­max was a big rea­son for the “Max” part of the name. I’m sure with Dis­ney+ and Ap­ple TV+ al­ready out there, you didn’t want to go with HBO+ … but it would have made more sense.)

And per­haps worse still, you’re not ev­ery­where.

While I can ac­cess you via my Ap­ple TV boxes, those us­ing Roku and Ama­zon Fire TV giz­mos can­not. I re­al­ize deals be­tween con­tent providers and plat­forms can be com­pli­cated AND that it takes two to tango, but that just seems like a huge prob­lem for you, one you can’t al­low to go on for long.

I also don’t love your Ap­ple TV app — I’m dis­ap­pointed you built it

on the bones of the HBO Now app, which I de­tested. Us­ing the HBO Max app is sim­i­larly frus­trat­ing, but at least there IS an app for my platform of choice.

Most shock­ingly, you sim­ply haven’t been great when it comes to clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion with your po­ten­tial cus­tomers. Lead­ing up to the launch, it was sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out what you were go­ing to cost for whom. It seemed you’d

be about $15 per month, just as HBO Now was, but that wasn’t ob­vi­ous — es­pe­cially with some, but not all, cus­tomers of par­ent com­pany AT&T get­ting you for free. With a bit of ma­neu­ver­ing, I was able to take ad­van­tage of a year­long $12-per-month deal, so I can’t re­ally com­plain.

And it may not seem like it, but I’m mostly not com­plain­ing about you. Ul­ti­mately, even though you’re one of the more ex­pen­sive

Ar­guably worse, your name DOES sug­gest the in­clu­sion of Cine­max — also a Warner prop­erty and long an HBO sis­ter pre­mium ca­ble of­fer­ing. Yet one thing you DON’T have is Cine­max fare, which is dis­ap­point­ing. (I asked around, and more than one friend as­sumed, as I did, that Cine­max was a big rea­son for the “Max” part of the name. I’m sure with Dis­ney+ and Ap­ple TV+ al­ready out there, you didn’t want to go with HBO+ … but it would have made more sense.)

stream­ing ser­vices, your con­tent li­brary is im­pres­sive and poised to grow greatly.

I just think you’ve made things un­nec­es­sar­ily hard on your po­ten­tial sub­scribers — and on your­self.

WARN­ERME­DIA

This screenshot of the HBO Max app for the iPad il­lus­trates the wide range of pro­gram­ming that can be found on the ser­vice.

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