David Zaslav will go down as either the Grim Reaper of streaming or the heir apparent to Bob Iger. This guy walked into the Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) merger with a can of kerosene and used the acquisition of HBO Max as a match to just torch the entire platform. Zaslav’s vision is to compete with Netflix and Disney. But first, he had to overcome WBD’s $50 billion debt load. So he started gutting their best shows and films, some after they’d already finished filming, like Batgirl. Then they bought HBO Max and gutted their best shows. None of it made any sense. And neither does this. To complete the HBO Max Discovery merger, Zaslav and his Board of Hey-Here’s-A-Thought marketing geniuses decided to drop the HBO from the name and call their streaming service Max. So now, all vestiges of the brands we’ve come to trust will be hidden from promotion. Aces.

Two years ago, the media mogul David Zaslav said he had a plan to compete with the streaming titans Netflix and Disney: Combine the scripted entertainment of HBO Max with Discovery’s library of reality and unscripted series. The goal, he said in 2021, was to be “one of the top streaming companies in the world.”

He is about to put that idea to the test.

On Wednesday, Warner Bros. Discovery executives will unveil plans for the new combined streaming service, bringing together classic HBO series like “The Sopranos” and “Succession” with Discovery series like “Dr. Pimple Popper” and “Fixer Upper.” The service will be called Max and debut in the next month or two, according to three people with knowledge of the decision.

The streaming service will cost roughly $16 a month — the price of HBO Max now — though there will be several price tiers, including a less expensive one with advertising, the people said.

Success of the new service is crucial for Warner Bros. Discovery, which Mr. Zaslav formed last April with the blockbuster merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery. He sold shareholders on the deal in part by arguing that the combined company could have a killer app.

[From New York Times via Pajiba]

I kind of understand the name. By not having Discovery or HBO in the title it eliminates the bias that the platform favors one programming over the other. I wouldn’t think to go to Discovery Max for The White Lotus, nor would my first thought be to search for Dr. Pimple Popper on HBO’D or whatever. This allows them to combine their programing into one, new, powerhouse hub and brand it with the single moniker umph that both Netflix and Disney enjoy. At least that Zaslav’s hope. It’s a bold move to remove the two brand names from the final product. This will Date me, but I remember when HBO came out. You were either a Showtime house or an HBO house – only rich families could afford both in the beginning. To see HBO fade away is like telling me the nice lady up the street who baby sat me is dying, it’s hard to accept.

However, I agree with CB that HBO Max is not a great streaming service. It has great shows, if I know what I’m looking for. Browsing it is a nightmare. And the number of times it stalls right after loading is kind of ridiculous. So if Max is more user friendly, I’m okay saying goodbye. I’m also looking forward to Discovery programming, which I don’t have yet. I’m still angry at the shows Zaslav dropped. Apparently, he has a two-year plan. His goal is to take his subscribers from 96.1 million to 130 million by 2025. They also predict they will break even by next year and turn a profit in two. Again, I don’t know what hat Zaslav will wear at the end of this decade – a cap n’ bells or a crown. But all eyes are on this maniac right now.

Photo credit: HBO Max Instagram

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