I can’t imagine it’s easy to launch a new streaming network especially in a world that is more or less overflowing with them. If you have a particular interest, I’m pretty sure there’s a streaming network for you. Like to watch meerkats stand up and look at things? Then you’ll love Meerkats Plus! Not a real streaming service but lord how I wish it was. I would watch that thing on the constant. Who doesn’t want to watch meerkats stand up and look at things all day? Throw in some narration from Sean Astin and this would be a must streaming service for my household. A. Must.
While it’s easy to make up adorable sounding streaming services that don’t exist, it doesn’t’ negate the fact that there really are a plethora of streaming networks out there. You’ve got Netflix, Shudder for horror, Hulu for television, Apple+ to watch them try and build a library, and Disney+ to house just about every IP you love. It’s no wonder that cable is getting dropped from more and more households. So when HBO announced that they would be joining the streaming game, it was cause for slight excitement. For those who missed Friends on Netflix, they now had a new place to stream. For those who wanted DC Comic properties, they now would have a place to stream. And for those who just love HBO shows like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The Wire, or Last Week Tonight With John Oliver you now had a new place to stream those. Suddenly HBO Now and HBO Go seemed kind of unnecessary. Yet, no one really told HBO that.
Like I said, it can’t be easy to start a streaming service. Apple has struggled because unlike Netflix and Disney, Apple didn’t provide a large library of content for viewers to sink their teeth into. Everything was new content, which there’s nothing wrong with, but the shows were kind of, well, “meh”. Apple gave you the choice of either diving into new material or else while Netflix and Disney housed old familiar programs. The things that you watch that are the equivalent of a security blanket. Stuff like The Office or Star Wars. Those type of things. In this regard, HBO had kind of a leg up on Apple and other streaming networks. They have the library. They just don’t know how to put out a streaming service.
I think it’s safe to say that the launching of HBO Max has been a bit of a mess. Not you just spilled a whole bottle of pasta sauce on your white shirt kind of a mess but more of a whole jar of pasta sauce just spilled on your white shirt and you have no clue where that jar of pasta sauce came from. HBO Max should have been a cakewalk. HBO has the rights to tons of awesome content like the Harry Potter movies or Doctor Who. These are things people want to watch yet when the network dropped people couldn’t find it. The HBO Max app did not release at midnight, was difficult for new users to find, and was made super confusing.
When HBO Max was ushered into the world like a wide-eyed young lad ready to take on the big city, HBO already had streaming services of HBO Go and HBO Now… both of which still exist. Why? Why are there three different places to watch HBO content? Why does my HBO Max setup work on HBO Now but not provide me with the content of HBO Max? What app do I download? Where can I watch Watchmen? Why am I crying? Am I seriously paying $14.99 a month for this?!
After the fumbling of the launch, HBO tried to settle down. They wanted to take your time and soak in their vast library of content. Okay, that’s cool. I’ve looked around. There are some things here that I haven’t seen that piqued my interest and I’m happy I now have a place to stream Harry Potter and I suppose it’s cool knowing where all the Zack Snyder era DC movies are… oh, what’s that? They’re not staying? Those DC movies are actually going away? But doesn’t Warner Bros own all the rights to these movies? Oh, they do. Phew. I thought for a second that I had signed up for a streaming service that had promised content and that content was going to be taken away…oh, it is being taken away? Why? Because you’re rotating new DC movies in and out but these ones will be back. May I ask, why? Are there really that many DC movies out there? Again, why? Disney has a literal vault and they haven’t pulled anything since launch. And this is a company that sat on the video release of Oliver and Company for faaaaaar too long. On top of that, HBO Max isn’t even a month old yet and you’re already pulling content?! What the face?! How long before HBO Max starts pulling shows like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones? Don’t worry, it’ll be back… at some point.
I don’t know, if I was just releasing a new streaming service I would be sure to keep all the content on there for as long as possible. Outside of Gone With the Wind, you have my full support in pulling this and labeling it with a warning. Good on you! Outside of that, I don’t feel very confident in my new streaming network pulling things I want to watch. Especially when that streaming network owns the material. Seems weird. Seems fishy. Seems like HBO might have bitten off more than they could chew.
HBO Max should have been an easy sell. HBO has been putting out stellar content since I was a kid and was too young to watch some of their programming. Yet, it’s hard not to classify this launch as a fumble. Netflix, Disney, and Shudder must be giggling their faces off right now. In a world with so many streaming choices, it’s on that streaming network to convince you to not only subscribe but to stay. HBO Max seems to not understand this. I don’t understand this. Someone in charge of HBO really needs to revamp this whole project and maybe eliminate two of the other streaming networks that should have just been integrated in the transition. I have HBO Max but I’m not sure for how much longer.
What do you think Geeklings? How many of you have been happy with HBO Max? Is it what you expected? Are you disappointed? Sound off in the comments or throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. Always happy to talk about streaming services with fellow streamers. Is that a thing we call ourselves now? No? Maybe?