October 30, 2019 8:14 pm

Biggest takeaways from massive HBO Max media day

Biggest takeaways from massive HBO Max media day

Serious announcements were made during the epic HBO Max media day on Tuesday evening. The landmark event offered a preview of what WarnerMedia’s all-encompassing streaming service will offer. A specific launch date hasn’t been set, but it’s slated for May 2020.

Instead of dispersing and stretching their catalog over two different services, HBO Now and HBO Go, this HBO Max initiative brings all WarnerMedia under one roof.

Read on to discover what SNIPdaily featured writer Duane Beckett and I see as the most compelling storylines from the media meeting.

The initial price is what?

(Fitzgerald) It’s apparent HBO is counting on its older target audience to maintain the status quo of HBO Now: $14.99 per month to start.

Here’s the sweet kicker for incumbent users: Per HBO’s FAQ’s, those with a current HBO, HBO Now, or AT&T television subscription will get Max for no additional cost.

But it’s impossible to overlook how starkly this price tag for prospective HBO newcomers contrasts with a new juggernaut. Disney+ has an initial subscription ask is $6.99 per month — less than half that of HBO Max. There’s even a $69.99 option for the whole year, or about $5.83 per month. Verizon customers also get Disney+ free for a year.

When it comes to HBO Max’s initial price point, I’ll invoke ESPN8: The Ocho commentator Pepper Brooks, who once said, “It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ‘em.”

Adding original feature films

(Beckett) We can all agree that HBO Max has one hell of a back catalog. They’ve got you, me, our families, and friends covered! But it seems their new content has forgotten something — potentially half of its audience.

I see little-to-no content for men.

Am I overreacting? Maybe. But I cannot be alone in seeing the trend. Women are the No. 1 priority in new content. That’s great, for women — but does no one want my money?

Some of the content announced like Let Them All Talk could be okay. Meryl Streep is always fantastic on-screen. SuperIntelligence has Melissa McCarthy, one of the funniest women in Hollywood. Yet neither really grab me and this is HBO!

Perhaps the Anthony Bourdain documentary will have something to hold my attention. Yet, HBO Max was the one platform I was chomping at the bit to see what’s coming next. Right now, I’m feeling very deflated.

Heavy investment in exclusive rights TV deals

(Fitzgerald) There was a massive bidding war for South Park, but HBO Max revealed Tuesday it won out for the exclusive streaming rights to the legendary animated show.

Hulu did hold the rights to it, yet the inflated price tag caused the Trey Parker-Matt Stone creation to change hands. Bloomberg reported earlier this month the price tag for South Park inflated to a whopping $500 million. Dear lord. You can bet Parker and Stone are far wealthier men now than they already were.

HBO also nabbed the rights to Adult Swim’s modern animation classic Rick and Morty, which certainly cost a pretty penny as well. Two of the most watched sitcoms ever are landing with HBO Max, too: Friends and The Big Bang Theory.

Oh, and not to mention, there was official confirmation on all 10 seasons of Dr. Who. The BBC and HBO Max’s partnership is another big step, and Who fans alone could account for an uptick in subscriptions.

WarnerMedia owns the The CW, so there will be all those shows available to binge watch. But the amount of money spent on just acquiring TV shows from elsewhere is absolutely mind-boggling. HBO is apparently banking on a huge subscriber base to help foot the bill.

The premium destination for classic movies

(Beckett) HBO Max is packing heat like Dirty Harry when it comes to classic movies. They’re even bold enough to call themselves “THE PLACE” for people wanting classics.

Any movie fan loves a golden oldie — but this collection isn’t only black and white. They’ve gone the whole hog making sure what they’ve got is what you want.

HBO Max have been smart and got experts to curate — it just happens that their expert curators are TCM. Another department of Time Warner, and part of this AT&T behemoth. $85 Billion really gets you everything.

So what are movie aficionados going to get for their $14.99 monthly fee? Here’s a tweet straight from the horse’s mouth:

On this evidence from the HBO Max media day, it’s apparent this will indeed be the place to go for classic movies.

Aiming to revolutionize the streaming experience

(Beckett) Whatever your views on this product, HBO Max is trying something big and bold. They’re not just giving you content. They’re curating it from a multitude of perspectives.

From a technical perspective, it’s nothing new. From a consumer standpoint, in a streaming setting, it’s exciting.

So why the excitement? Well, we all use reviews and have trusted friends for recommendations. HBO know that if our friends watching it, it’s likely we’ll watch it too. So having trusted human curators we can relate and connect to — is a revolution.

The challenge for HBO Max will be to build a diverse range of influencers. If they do, aimless searching could be over. I don’t know about you, but I often spend more time looking for something to watch than I do actually watching.

Human curation is far better than algorithms. Hopefully, HBO Max’s smart analytics will be better than Netflix’s and Prime’s recommendations. For at least half of this new streaming experience, I’m enthused.

Keeping on strong with high-end TV development

(Fitzgerald) No need to take up much space in declaring that HBO thrives in creating television masterpieces. Anything from The Sopranos to The Wire to Game of Thrones, HBO is TV hit factory of pop culture iconography.

So it should come as little surprise that WarnerMedia is doubling down on this successful aspect of its new spin-off subsidiary. In addition to developing a Game of Thrones prequel — another such series was scrapped just before Tuesday’s unveiling — there are new, original ideas featuring all kinds of A-list talent.

Look no further than this thread of tweets to discover what HBO Max has in store for self-produced TV programming, screen grabbed for convenience:

Again there is an effort here to tell stories centered on women, which is great! Bring it on, especially when Mindy Kaling is running sh*t and Anna Kendrick is center stage for a comedic showcase.

How cool does Tokyo Vice sound, with Ansel Elgort leading the way? Elgort was excellent in the pulse-pounding-but-funny-but-sort-of-a-musical Baby Driver. Soon enough he’ll be seen starring in Steven Spielberg’s update of West Side Story.

Speaking of musicals, we have a little Grease nostalgia coming from HBO Max. Putting a new spin on a preexisting IP can be tons of fun. Let’s hope that and the new GoT adaptation pay dividends.

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