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This week on HBO, Max fades to black — and is born as Max. But many people still wonder: Why did Warner Bros. Discovery decide to change its name?

HBO, after all, has been a solid-gold brand for decades, representing premium quality original TV shows from “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to “Game of Thrones” and “Success.” Meanwhile, Max, as viewers have pointed out, is a pretty cool name from a branding point of view. (The Twitter handle @Max is Instacart founder Max Mullen, while on Instagram it’s owned by hockey star Max Domi, a forward for the Dallas Stars.)

Warner Bros. Here are the two main reasons why Discovery chose to drop HBO from HBO Max:

  • To signal a wider program mix: HBO Max was positioned as the successor to HBO, but from the beginning it included more than just what was on HBO. With Max, WBD’s Discovery Communications side of the house is loaded with more non-fiction programming – Max has more than 35,000 hours of content, a lineup more than double that of HBO Max. When announcing the new name last month, the company’s goal was to “allow every member of the family … to see what they want, at any time.” In a much talked about slide from WBD’s Q2 2022 earnings report (See below), when it first announced plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+, the company said that HBO Max has a “male skew” that focuses on scripted content, while Discovery+ has a “female skew” that focuses on unscripted content. Anyway, the idea was that the new Max name needed to reflect the fact that it wasn’t just, say, “Euphoria” and “Barry,” but a place where you could see things like “90 Day Fiancé,” owned by Jonathan and Drew Scott. Brothers” and episodes of Shark Week. And while HBO isn’t in the service’s name, it has a big presence on Max, including having its own spot at the top of the home screen alongside the “Series,” “Movies” and “New & Popular” categories.
  • To make the mainstream seem more “family friendly”: Warner Bros. Discovery executives ultimately felt that HBO’s reputation was limiting HBO Max’s reach for families with children. “We all love HBO, and it’s a brand that’s been built for over five decades” to stand for “exciting, adult-oriented entertainment,” WBD head of streaming JB Perrette said at the Max launch event in April. But it’s not a place where parents are most eager to drop their kids off… not surprisingly. [kids’ content] Category doesn’t live up to its true potential on HBO Max. The new Max includes a placeholder Kids Profile (which by default allows access to content rated PG and TV-PG or less) on the home screen for all new subscribers.

See also: The Ultimate Launch: All TV Shows, Movies Coming to Expanded Streaming Service

All the same, the top execs on the name change “heavily debated” Perrette explained. They briefly looked at various options that could include Warner or WB or both. [HBO] brand,” he told reporters last month. “And we felt that was not necessary. We had Max, who was short, tight. It says something universal. Yes, the danger is that eventually it may become too common to own it. But the flip side is that it makes it very approachable and very easy. And to be honest, when we talked about the service we found ourselves, the shorthand was always ‘Max’. We don’t even say ‘HBO’; ‘It’s on the Max,’ we say.

Max launched in the United States on Tuesday, May 23, except for minor technical issues that required many users (depending on device platform) to manually download and log into the new Max app. Warner Bros. Discovery quickly announced that it would reverse the move — made amid the ongoing WGA writers’ strike — to bring together writers and directors in film listings on the new service.

Of course, it remains to be seen how effective the conversion of HBD Max to Max will be in attracting WBD targets and retaining a broad base of subscribers.

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