HBO Max ArrivesBy Tom Dougherty
28 May 2020
HBO Max finally arrives, and what it says about streaming’s future
Because we’re all being shut in to prevent the spread of COVID-19, streaming TV is booming. And new services are popping up right now, including yesterday’s HBO Max.
The streaming app from WarnerMedia is the next to last announced service to arrive this year, with NBCUniversal’s Peacock coming this summer.
That means the big players are now coming into view, led by Netflix and followed by Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Apple+ and more niche offerings like The Criterion Channel and Shudder.
All are succeeding, but what HBO Max would be remained elusive right up to its unveiling. A super-powered HBO was how many described it. But who would get it? Do you already have it and simply never realized it? Is it just HBO?
The answers became clearer yesterday. And, without trying to get into hyperbole, wow. As The Ringer’s film writer Sean Fennessey said:
The Criterion Channel would like a word, of course. But he’s still not wrong. HBO Max offers most of the cream of the Warner library and those it’s acquired, like HBO. The sheer scope of its offerings rival Disney+ and Netflix.
As it increases original content, it’s will become a streaming powerhouse if it isn’t already. And, yes, you have it if you subscribe to HBO Now or HBO on one of the cable companies signed with WarnerMedia. (Which is an interesting launch strategy.)
“Basically, HBO Max is WarnerMedia skipping the middle man and going directly to consumers. Same with Disney+ and Peacock. Other studios, such as Paramount, are sure to follow.”
HBO Max proves studios don’t need the middle man
But it also got me thinking. The landscape of content viewing, including the currently locked down movie theaters, is evolving. And studios, the content providers themselves, are responding in powerful ways.
Basically, HBO Max is WarnerMedia skipping the middle man and going directly to consumers. Same with Disney+ and Peacock. Other studios, such as Paramount, are sure to follow.
And what does that mean? It means movie theaters will focus only on blockbusters (which is already happening) and cable companies will see more cord-cutters (especially when sports leagues starting acting like the studios).
When Netflix first started dominating the streaming landscape, the studios were caught flat-footed. I doubted they would respond in any meaningful way. But that’s turned out not to be true.
If HBO Max is any indication, Netflix faces true competition.
Now leave me alone while I watch The Looney Tunes classic, “One Froggy Evening.”
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