Max Unveil Max Unveil

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has unveiled key details about Max, the upcoming rebranding of its two streaming platforms HBO Max and Discovery+. Executives met with the press on Wednesday to introduce the new joint platform’s price points, new shows, and how it will differ from the company’s current offers.

According to WBD executives, animation was a key factor in changing the platform’s name to Max, as they believed parents were put off by the HBO name, associating it with edgier, adult-oriented content.

We’re still not sure what, if any, of the animation that HBO Max removed last year will show up on Max, but a larger catalog could help justify the new service’s higher prices, detailed below.

What went down on Wednesday? Warner Bros Discovery unveiled its plans for Max, a new streaming platform that will merge the company’s two streamers HBO Max and Discovery+. The announcement came at a press event where the streamer also shared details about its slate of upcoming projects. The new platform will launch first in the U.S. on May 23.

Why the change? According to JB Perrette, WBD president and CEO of global streaming and games, the HBO Max brand was steering families away from the platform. He argued that because of HBO’s reputation as an adult-first network, “it’s not exactly where parents would most eagerly drop off their kids. And yet Warner Bros. Discovery has some of the best-known kids’ characters, animation, and brands in the industry. Not surprisingly, the category has not met his true potential on HBO Max.”

During a press Q&A at the event, other executives also spoke about the desire to keep the HBO name synonymous with “premium” content, rather than a catch-all for everything that WBD wants to put on its streaming platform.

What’s new with Max? Warner says the new platform will receive more than 40 new film and tv titles each month, and will feature a major influx of Discovery content at launch, including shows from networks such as HGTV, Discovery Channel, and Food Network. Perrette also says the new platform will be easier to use and feature simplified navigation tools. He also teased greater account personalization and a more kid-friendly experience. Oh, the pricing is new too, with three tiers available to interested subscribers.

What are the new tiers? Three versions of Max will be available to interested subscribers:

  • Max Ad-Lite ($9.99/month or $99.99/year): Two concurrent streams, 1080p HD resolution, no offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality.
  • Max Ad-Free ($15.99/month or $149.99/year): Two concurrent streams, 1080p HD, up to 30 offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality.
  • Max Ultimate Ad-Free ($19.99/month or $199.99/year): Four concurrent streams, up to 4k Ultra HD resolution, 100 offline downloads, Dolby Atmos sound quality.

Many cable subscribers who currently get HBO Max as part of their plan will get Max when it’s launched. Current Max distribution partners include AT&T, Cox, Cricket, DirecTV, Dish, Hulu, Altice USA’s Optimum, Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, Charter’s Spectrum, Verizon, and Comcast’s Xfinity.

What does this mean for existing HBO Max stand-alone customers? Subscribers will have to pay more for the best-looking content. After the switch, 4k Ultra HD content will only be available to Max Ultimate Ad-Free subscribers. Presently, HBO Max’s $15.99/month ad-free plan includes a selection of 4K programming.

HBO Max just raised its prices in January, how are they justifying another hike? Perrette says he believes the service’s new price points provide “unbelievable value for everything you get.” He went on to say:

There’s no streaming service in the world that has more, higher-end consumers than HBO Max. And so, our view was, let’s not try and take more money out of the wallets of people who can maybe less afford it. But rather get them to sample it at a great price. And if there are people who want higher quality, who want all the bells and whistles, and who can afford it, we’ve got a price for you and it’s $4 more than the $15.99.

Pictured at top: Looney Tunes Cartoons, Steven Universe, The Amazing World of Gumball