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.
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