2023 is set to be a big year for HBO Max. We’ve long known that the streaming service will be combining together with Discovery+, and that day is finally get closer.
With all these big changes ahead, here’s what we can expect from HBO Max going forward.
A New Name
Once HBO Max combines together with Discovery+, the newly-created streaming service will get a rebrand. Speculation for the new name has included variations of Warner Bros or Warner in the title. A recent report from CNBC, however, suggests something of a curveball.
According to their sources, lawyers for the company are vetting the name “Max” as the name for the new streaming platform. Not HBO Max, not Discovery Max, not Warner Bros Max- just “Max.”
Dropping the HBO name comes with some context to consider.
HBO as a brand carries a level of television prestige, but since HBO (the cable channel) was never available in much of the world, that branding’s appeal is limited to the U.S. The new streaming platform needs to appeal to a global audience.
Many people also associate HBO with adult-oriented content, which may explain why Warner Bros Discovery gave the axe to a number of children’s programs earlier this year.
New Ways to Watch It
In September of 2021, then-parent of HBO Max AT&T decided to pull HBO off of Amazon Prime Channels after the two companies failed to reach an agreement. Despite offering a discount to the affected customers at the time, many of the 5 million people who subscribed to HBO through Prime Channels did not stay with the service by subscribing to HBO Max directly.
This week, Warner Bros. Discovery and Amazon announced they reached a new deal to work together once again. There is one key difference with the new agreement, however.
When subscribers add HBO Max to other services like YouTube TV or Hulu, they can only watch TV shows and movies under the “HBO” banner like Game or Thrones or The White Lotus on the app. For HBO Max-specific shows and movies, like Friends or Hacks, they must log in separately to the HBO Max app.
With the new Amazon deal, however, this marks the first time that HBO Max subscribers can watch the full library of shows and movies through a third-party app. Everything that’s available to watch on the HBO Max app will also be available to watch through the Prime Video app for subscribers who sign up for HBO Max through Prime Channels.
And when the new consolidated HBO Max/Discovery+ service launches, Prime Channel subscribers will automatically convert to the new service.
This could be a sign that a more streamlined experience between HBO & HBO Max is in store should Warner Bros Discovery develop similar deals with other companies.
And as a side note- there's talk that Warner Bros Animation may be coming to Prime Video.
Big New Shows
Despite cuts to their programming lineup, there’s still lots to be excited about when it comes to HBO Max’s content library. Next month we’ll see the debut of the post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us, starring The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal and based on the popular video game.
Here’s some other shows on the horizon:
- The Idol: A drama series created by The Weeknd that focuses on the music industry. The Weeknd, also known as Abel Tesfaye, plays a self-help guru/cult leader who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming singer, played by Lily-Rose Depp. Other cast members include Troye Sivan, Dan Levy, and Eli Roth.
- Love and Death: Elizabeth Olsen gets her own take as the real-life Candy Montgomery after this year’s Hulu limited series. Also stars Jesse Plemons, Patrick Fugit, and Lily Rabe.
- Dune: The Sisterhood: Sci-fi prequel series to 2021’s Dune.
- The White House Plumbers: Political drama miniseries starring Woody Harrelson that focuses on the Nixon administration.
- Full Circle: Six episode mystery series from Steven Soderbergh about an investigation into a botched kidnapping in present-day New York City. Cast features Jim Gaffigan, Claire Danes, Timothy Olyphant, and Dennis Quaid.
- The Climb: A rock-climbing competition series from Jason Momoa and professional rock climber Chris Sharma.
Plus there’s new seasons of returning favorites like Minx, Hacks, And Just Like That, Our Flag Means Death, The Gilded Age, Succession, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Somebody Somewhere, Barry, and How To With John Wilson.
A New Service
We now know that HBO Max and Discovery+’s consolidated service will launch in the spring of 2023, earlier than expected.
There’s still much we don’t know- will this use the interface from HBO Max or Discovery+? What plans will be available? How much will it cost?
We do know that Warner Bros Discovery plans to continue to use “hubs” that will include HBO, DC Comics, Discovery, and Warner Bros. The new platform will also include content from CNN and maybe also live sports, eventually, too.
Within the portfolio of brands owned by Warner Bros Discovery, it appears that “HBO” will be listed as merely a sub-brand, rather than the name on the marquee going forward. Meanwhile there appears to be an effort to expand access to HBO Max and help make it easier to watch the “Max” content through third-party apps.
We don’t know everything that’s in store for the streaming service just yet, but at least we know there’s some good shows coming down the pipeline.