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Snippet: HBO Max/Discovery+ Combination May Just Be Called ‘Max’ ☇

Shared on December 5, 2022

Alex Sherman & Lillian Rizzo for CNBC:

The merged platform’s expected name, “Max,” is being vetted by the company’s lawyers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives haven’t finalized a decision and the name could still be changed, but Max is the likely choice, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Some senior executives are still debating a final name, said two of the people. Internally, Warner Bros. Discovery has given the new service a code name of “BEAM” while a final name is being debated, said the people. Lawyers are vetting other names, as well.

The app itself will share similarities with Disney+’s platform, with Warner Bros. Discovery’s brands as individual tiles, the people said. HBO, Discovery, DC Comics and Warner Bros. will be among the landing hubs on the platform, the people added. […]

Chief Executive David Zaslav has cut back on HBO Max original series spending, which has helped reform HBO’s branding. Still, HBO has a limited audience that’s largely U.S. based, and the streaming service will offer much more than HBO — including reality TV from Discovery, news documentaries from CNN, movies from Warner Bros., kids programming, and possibly, eventually, live sports. Zaslav and his team see the value in making HBO a sub-brand within the larger streaming offering, said people familiar with their thinking.

Maybe I’m being negative, but I’m not looking forward to the end result of all of this. When HBO Max launched, I thought it had excellent content, albeit with a sometimes buggy app. Nonetheless, the mix of legacy HBO shows and some good-but-niche Max Originals created a really nice mix of content for people who gave a damn about television. Potentially, I saw it becoming a higher-brow Netflix. Instead, due to AT&T’s ineptitude, it was unloaded with a lot of debt to Discovery, Inc., creating two libraries of content that typically have vastly different audiences. In the mad scramble to be profitable, it seems the cheap-to-produce reality nonsense that has become Discovery’s signature content will probably come at the expense of a lot of the thoughtful, more expensive HBO and Max Originals content.

I also wonder if we’ll see price hikes due to the “value add” of combined content libraries that no one asked for (Discovery+ customers pay $4.99/month, while HBO Max customers pay $9.99 or $14.99/month). At that point, with all the forced bundling, one wonders if we’re just going to end up back with cable, but in a different form. Nonetheless, whatever negatives happen to HBO Max, it’s yet another promising streaming service that AT&T fumbled.

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