HBO Max Go Now

Episode notes

  • Still need to read Ben smiths article on ny times about media
  • Sony and Oil companies bought media companies but the culture never changed
  • The old world of Hollywood is finally dieing
  • Risk of the brand of HBO, and screwed up the branding
  • HBO has a brand that makes you want to pay attention to their shows
  • Is HBO blinded by netflix and trying to be the a huge bucket vs Disney is more curated. Much smaller selection but still works
  • Disney is becoming a subscription + service
  • HBO = quality, Netflix = volume

It’s not tv, its HBO

It’s interesting to look at the streaming wars today and try and think about where things will be five years from now. As of right now we have Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV, Peacock and Hulu as the major players. Thats not even counting the countless smaller players like CBS all access and AMC Premier. Freaks like me will pay for seven streaming services but will regular people do this? Will even I do this long term? I love Better Call Saul and would totally watch it if I could but I’m not going ot go out of my way to separately sign up for and pay for AMC.

Bundling is inevitable. Even if all seven persist normal people dont want to manage that complexity. They just want to sign up for “tv” and get everything they need. We area already seeing this with the Disney bundle and the new bundle on Apple TV that gets you CBS all access and showtime for the same price as CBS was on its own.

Do each of these channels need their own apps or can they all just be channels in one shared library. I don’t think video will consolidate into one app that has everything the way music did with Spotify. Disney and Netflix have to much of their own compelling content to imagine them every wanting to license it out (again). So then its really a question of how many of these standalone apps deserves to stand alone and how many will most Americans be willing to manage?

Three is the magic number for all kinds of reasons and if Netflix and Disney aren’t going anywhere that really only leaves room for one or two more in the long run. Does that last leg of the stool a stand alone brand like Disney or is it also an aggregator like Apple TV and Amazon are. Theres always going to be a TON of mediocre content from a range of small and mid sized studios and that need to go somewhere.

So it goes back to the central question here, what does HBO want to be. HBO used to mean high quality shows and special content for adults. Serious stuff thats worth your focus and attention. Appointment viewing as they say.

But HBO max is trying to play the aggregator and what its doing is watering down the brand to a point where its almost unrecognizable. HBO is literally a “channel” with HBO max, presented right along side Cartoon Network and TCM. On one hand you could say great, I get all of HBO and all this other stuff, what could be bad about that. On the other hand it shows they didnt have the confidence in their content the way that Disney did. They are telling the world with this move that HBO content alone isnt enough we need some cartoons and old movies to make this thing compelling. Maybe they are right but then dont call it HBO, call it WB Max or WB+ for all I care.

I’ve written about streaming almost as much as I have written about mobile over the last few months and thats because theres a lot of experimenting happening with the business models here. Makes me want look for a business class but who has time for that shit.