Let’s talk about this HBO Max/Discovery + merger, shall we?
“Let’s Get Together, yeah yeah yeah…”
Before we start, this is NOT going to be one of those “Discovery sucks! I hate that HBO Max is getting Discovery shows!” tirade. Warner has partnered with Discovery, so it was obvious that the 2 companies would be mixing, matching and cross-promoting one another; that’s just the nature of the biz. We’re not in love with the Discovery shows, but we’re not bemoaning the fact that they’re there either. Discovery keeps making these shows, so clearly somebody’s watching them, and that’s fine. At the same time, we’re not required to click on any of them either. There are already plenty of shows and movies on HBO Max that we’ve never clicked on; we’ve never watched everything on any streaming service. If Joe and Jane Six-Pack dig the Discovery shows, then we say let them have ’em. We’ve never clicked on Singin’ in the Rain, Meet Me in St. Louis or any of the Andy Hardy movies, but they’re on there for anybody who wants to see them. Got it? Good.
For those who are not aware, recently, on April 12, 2023 specifically, Warner Bros. Discovery, headed by this guy, reality TV mogul David Zaslav…
“I am not a greedy, out-of-touch boomer who’s only concerned about profit, OK?! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the country club and my manservant needs to clean my solid gold Rolls-Royce!”
…held a major press event where they finally revealed the new name and objective of their long awaited and much talked about plans to merge their 2 main streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery +.
In said presser, WBD finally revealed the name of their new mega-streamer.
It went from HBO Max….
So you guys who get millions of dollars to make decisions like this had months to cook up a new name, and this is what you came up with? All you did was shave off the HBO name.
(Also, not to nitpick, but did you have to change the background as well? We have nothing against the color blue, but we liked the purple background color; it was more distinctive, helped the service stand out more. Though we do like how you modified the Max logo to resemble the HBO logo with the circle getting placed inside the ‘a’ like how it’s in the ‘o’ of the HBO logo. Nice touch.)
Now you may well wonder, why was WBD is such an all-fired hurry to remove the HBO part from their name? The answer is a lot simpler than you might think. Hint: it has something to do with these guys:
That’s right. WBD wanted the HBO moniker gone because they want to attract that elusive sub-group that all media craves…
Indeed, there was a surprising amount of emphasis on Kids & Family entertainment at the presser, more than most people were expecting. It seems that the higher-ups at WBD believe (or pretend to believe) that the HBO name was driving away general family audiences, and that people don’t associate the HBO brand with family entertainment, but rather with niche, provocative adult entertainment, and they’re really hoping to change that.
“Why is everybody always pickin’ on me?”
We find it kind of interesting that these folks are convinced that nobody associates HBO with family entertainment, when in fact, while it’s never been what they mainly specialized in, family entertainment has been part of HBO since it was launched.
History lesson, kids: do you know what HBO’s first original scripted series was? It wasn’t The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Westworld, Insecure, Boardwalk Empire or Deadwood.
It was Fraggle Rock.
Our first ever exposure to the United Kingdom TV show Dr. Snuggles was on HBO.
Go ahead and look him up. We’ll wait.
The Water Babies. The Island of Neverwas. Allison and the Magic Bubble. The Adventures of Professor Beethoven. Peter No-Tail. The Elmchanted Forest. The Mouse and His Child. The “Buy Me That!” specials. These were all family movies and specials that we saw on HBO as kids.
And never mind that HBO is the current home of Sesame Street.
Yes, this airs on the same network that airs Euphoria. Believe it or not.
And also, HBO has a sister channel called HBO Family that’s been running since 1996. It’s currently only airing in Asia, but still…
Incidentally, if the idea is to attract more families to the platform, then WBD could have named the service HBO Family. It’s not the greatest name, but it’s better than just plain Max.
What I don’t get is why WBD never thought about naming its streaming service after the Warner Bros. studio.
The studio’s name is known all over the world. Everyone instantly recognizes its iconic shield logo, so why not name the service Warner Max or WB Max? Heck, even if they just called it WB+ or Warner+, that would be lazy (since everyone is doing the plus thing after the name), but viewers would instantly know whose service it was.
Maybe the HBO name might have contributed the family entertainment getting the least amount of clicks on HBO Max, but I would argue that their almost never bothering to advertise or promote their family fare didn’t help either. Since HBO Max’s launch, I can recall seeing one ad for Jellystone! and one for Looney Tunes Cartoons and that was it. People aren’t going to flock to something when they don’t know it’s there.
Compare this to Disney+, who never lets you forget the stuff they have, because they promote them to death. You never have trouble remembering that Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars ’cause they remind you constantly; they even have Star Wars and Marvel characters walking around the Disney parks. You always remember what Disney does since they plaster the Disney name in front of everything and remind you all the time.
This does seem to check out; it syncs up with the words of current president of Cartoon Network, Michael Ouweleen…
…who in an interview around late January/early February stated that he and WBD were planning to shift CN to being a more “general, all ages” animation channel.
Now, this sounds promising, but given WBD’s shenanigans as of late…
…You’ll understand if we’re just a tad skeptical. Seeing is believing.
D: If WBD’s claims actually do bear fruit, I personally hope that these plans result in more general TV Y or TV Y7 shows on Max and Cartoon Network. The gap between the ranges of CN’s programming as of late has been really noticeably wide; shows are either for Cartoonito…
Or [adult swim]…
And that’s it.
A middle ground exists and that’s a market just waiting to be tapped.
I really hope WBD can/will pull this off. It’s why Cartoon Network was always my favorite of the Big Three kids’ animation networks: it always seemed to cater to that sweet spot for people like me who don’t exactly flock to shows made for toddlers but aren’t really attracted to gratuitously gross, overly sexual, stoneriffic hipster adult cartoons either. There should be a place for us gray animation fans.
J: I’m going to add to this; I hope that this “new way” for Cartoon Network will not only lead to more general audience programming on the channel, but also that we’ll get more bright, colorful, upbeat, funny cartoons on CN instead of the mopey, depressing, emo, edge lord-y stuff that we’ve been getting as of late. Somewhere down the line, these hot new creators and producers seem to have forgotten that cartoons are first and foremost meant to be FUN!
-If you want to get into our good graces, WBD, bringing back the shows that you yanked off the platform last year would definitely be a step in the right direction.
On a final note, we think it’s interesting that, in order to attract more families to their streaming service, WBD dropped the the HBO handle, as they feel that name has become synonymous with adult entertainment, but kept the Max name; coincidentally their service shares that part of the name with another pay-TV channel, Cinemax…
…Which actually DOES specialize in adult entertainment.
16 thoughts on “That’s Warner Brothers!: Missteps to the Max!”
I think the Max name is so lame to me. If WBD was worried that the HBO brand name will turn away families (which I think it’s a load of shit considering that HBO has family stuff as well, like you mentioned), then why not just called WarnerMax or WB+? It’s not really that complicated.
Seriously, why is it that I, a freaking nobody on the internet, can came up the new name in less than 5 seconds than the executives who has spends months in meeting rooms with millions of dollars in their pockets can come up with? It’s ridiculous.
Honestly, I blame both AT&T and Discovery for fucking it up.
Yeah, Jeff Bewkes of AT&T screwed WB over far worse than David Zaslav ever did. In fact, Bewkes’ cutting-and-running is what left WB vulnerable for the Discovery merger in the first place. Bewkes had the chance to unite all of WB’s various properties into one entity, thus making them stronger, but he chose to cook the books, take the money and run instead.
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You know what the sad part about this is? For what I’ve heard, Bewkes had the opportunity to get MGM back in the early 2010’s, but he chooses not to because he’s scared to ticked off the shareholders, which I think it’s a HUGE mistake on his part.
Don’t get me wrong, I fucking hate David Zaslav as much as the next guy, but AT&T is no better either.
It seems like the international versions of Cartoon Network are putting more emphasis on having middle of the demographic shows (basically the 6-12 demographic) than the US branch. For example, a show called (I hope I got the name right) Ivandoe: Prince Of Wonder has aired on the new version of Cartoon Network Canada. Jade Armor (an Asian inspired action comedy cartoon) has apparently aired in Asia since late 2022 and has yet to air in the US despite having a US writing staff. The new Total Drama series that was announced in 2021 was just released last week in Europe. So it seems like getting all kinds of demographics is something that other countries are doing better than the US. It reminds me of how Milo Murphy’s Law season 2 premiered in the US in January 2019 despite it already premiering in Japan, Germany, Spain, Turkey, and other countries since August 2018.
Eh, the other countries have been way ahead of the US for a long time. The international Boomerangs are actually watched by viewers and cared about by their parent companies. (It’s worth mentioning though that The UK and Canada’s Boomerangs are more like Cartoon Network; our Boomerang is basically CN’s recycle bin.)
Similarly, Cartoonito has been a big deal overseas long before the US ever had one, and even now our Cartoonito is barely a blip on the radar. It’s the same old story: since it didn’t get monster-sized ratings right out of the starting gate, WBD are now basically treating it like a red-headed stepchild. (Cartoonito US’s arriving right before the changing of the guards at WBD didn’t help either obviously.)
WB was/is trying to compete with Nick Jr. and Disney Junior, but they were never going to break even within a month; the latter 2 blocks have been around for years and have secured a following among kids with hit shows, add to that how nowadays many kids don’t even watch more than 15 minutes of TV, opting instead for YouTube and streaming services. To WBD’s ‘credit’, the American Cartoonito isn’t dead (yet), but they’ve definitely got to try harder and play the long game if they want to run with Mickey, Dora and the Paw Patrol. They also can’t be cheap about it; WBD has to be willing to pay for original shows and acquisitions if they want this to work.
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But Silver, don’t you see? The current executives don’t HAVE patience! That’s why they burned down everything that they assumed wouldn’t make an immediate profit!
Jokes aside, I do think that with a mix of long term patience and one or two current term successes, Cartoonito could do well for itself. And I’ve heard Batwheels is doing pretty great, and the Max portion of Cartoonito is the new home of Sesame Street. Those can easily be the flagship shows.
(Maybe a deal with PBS to get Sesame Street episodes on the linear Cartoonito? But only after their PBS debut, to keep their favor, of course. First the episodes air on Max, then PBS, then CN.)
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See, Cartoonito is a success, but only a moderate one. They can make it better.
I wanna see them try…..
I would too, but patience is a virtue that executives don’t seem to have…
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In other Max related news, 2 days ago Warner Bros Discovery have removed all of the Ben 10 spinoff series, , Dexter’s Laboratory and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack from HBO Max over to Amazon Prime Video. Of course, WBD has offered no explanation as to why they did this, nor have they given any indication of when or if these shows will be returning to the platform after HBO Max becomes Max on May 23.
Dexter’s Lab and Ben 10 can be watched on Prime Video, so that’s not too bad. Flapjack is there also, but it can only be purchased, as is the case with Close Enough and Uncle Grandpa. I don’t get why WBD has been doing what they’ve been doing and it’s getting a bit irritating. It’s hard to be a WB fan right now.
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This could be for a number of reasons: we all know Zaslav and company are on a constant quest for cash; if WBD were in the black they’d never consider doing loan-outs, and streaming in general is in an awkward place right now — even Disney’s making cuts and dropping shows from D+. It’s possible that if WBD score a few moneymaking hits, like say if Barbie, The Flash and Mortal Kombat score a few hundred million, then maybe they’ll put these shows back on Max. It could also also be an attempt to get some of the older, less clicked-on shows off the platform in order to make room for newer ones, since WBD claims they have all this new stuff coming down the pike (this is what led to the creation of the Boomerang channel, BTW), who can say?
In semi-related news, that new CGI Barney series is set to premiere on Cartoonito and Max in 2024; so apart from that and Jessica’s Big Little World (albeit with a reduced episode count, thanks, Zaslav!), WBD isn’t through with Cartoonito (yet); still no further word on Tom & Jerry Time, though.
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I mean, to be fair on the Disney Plus thing, at least it’s not as bad as WBD did with (HBO) Max, because at least Disney never written off their content as a tax-write off, as far as I’m aware, but it’s a bit concerning for me because it’s one thing to merge Disney Plus with Hulu, it’s another to cut back on producing the amount of original shows, but when you started removing shows off the platform, that make me very worried because personally, I don’t want Disney Channel’s library to be affected. But who knows? I could be wrong.
(Off topic, but Tacomaster made a reply to you in the other article: https://twinimages.blog/2023/04/27/to-wb-or-not-to-wb/#comment-2072)
Well, Star Bros. Today’s the day. HBO Max has finally rebrand themselves as Max.
What are you guys’ thoughts and opinions on this? I never tried out Max myself because I have no interest in it, and after last year’s shitshow, I refused to give Zaslav any money. So I want to know your thoughts?
We’ll let you know when we can get in; right now the app is still installing. We’ll keep you posted.
EDIT: OK, we’re in now. The interface is basically the same except you can search by brand now and of course the background color is now blue and there’s more Discovery stuff on here now. Our profiles and login info are still there, so there’s that. Overall, a sold “eh”. I’ll try to watch something later and then I’ll tell you guys how it plays.
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The interface is decent. It’s a lot like that of Disney+ or Prime Video. The display menu screen doesn’t look as nice as Disney+ or Paramount+ display screens, but that’s purely superficial.
The good news is that everything that was on the platform yesterday is still there today. The bad news is that everything that was yanked from the platform last year is still gone. Cartoon Network, DC and Adult Swim each have their own windows now. But curiously, there isn’t a Warner Brothers window. You’d think that there would be. Space Jam: A New Legacy is on Max, but the original 1996 Space Jam is not. That’s on Prime Video, as is the case with Dexter’s Lab and all of the Ben 10 spinoff shows. However, the original Ben 10 is still on Max. I really don’t get how the people in charge determine what stays and what goes.
EDIT: Dexter’s Lab, Space Ghost : Coast to Ghost and Ben 10 have both been moved to Prime Video, but are currently listed on the platform as being “currently unavailable”. What the actual hell?
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At launch, all the writers and directors were filed under “creators”. Max fixed this about a day later, but still… not a good look
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(sighs) Of course. Typical Zazslav…