La Jornada newspaper
Wednesday May 27, 2020, p. 8

The Angels. HBO helped create top-notch television decades before Netflix and Amazon started looking for big Hollywood celebrities for their shows.

Now this cable television network – with legendary programs such as The Sopranos, The Wire and Game of Thrones – enters the streaming war by launching its own platform, HBO Max, on Wednesday amid strong demand for content due to the pandemic from the coronavirus that has forced millions to stay home.

In the crowded constellation of entertainment brands, HBO is the crown jewel, said Christopher Smith, a professor of communication at the University of Southern California. “And with the strength of the HBO brand, they are making their way in the streaming war.”

The market is very crowded. In addition to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, other services such as Disney +, Apple TV + and Quibi recently joined.

But after licensing its movies and series for years, parent company WarnerMedia felt it could no longer circumvent this trend in Hollywood.

The launch of HBO Max follows the purchase of Time Warner by the telecommunications giant AT&T for $ 85 billion, bringing together under one roof all the titles of this expanding empire.

Warner Bros’ beloved shows, like Friends, mingle on this platform with movie classics, from Casablanca and Citizen Kane to Batman, alongside the hit HBO shows.

The launch was supposed to coincide with a highly anticipated Friends reunion, which had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

HBO Max executives hope that this widespread backlog in Hollywood productions will serve to add subscribers drawn to the classics in these times of great anxiety.

We’re taking advantage of the nostalgia and warm sentiment associated with these iconic characters that people love, director of marketing Katie Soo said at a recent Variety webinar.

Controversial strategy

Despite its enviable catalog, media analysts have expressed concern over the new platform’s strategy.

At $ 15 a month, HBO Max is the most expensive option among streaming platforms, at a time when unemployment in the United States has skyrocketed.

This focus on more is more moves away from the classic HBO model of focusing on fewer high-quality productions that really impact, Smith said. This threatens to dilute what made HBO so special.

A promotional campaign for HBO Max read: Where Bada … meets Bing … and Bang, accompanied by images of the characters Tony Soprano, Chandler Bing (from Friends) and Sheldon Cooper (from The Big Bang Theory). Advertising was criticized for being confusing.

To this confusion is added that the platform will work at the same time as the HBO Go TV service and the HBO Now platform, with programming only from the channel.

Bad catchphrase, bad promotion, Smith said. But the actual substance of what they were marketing is phenomenal.

While HBO Max will have no original launch titles, high-profile movies and series are in the works.

Lost creator JJ Abrams has three shows, while Gossip Girl returns and Ridley Scott works on the science fiction series Raised by Wolves.

As for movies, the new production company Warner Max will provide eight to 10 movies on a medium budget per year, as well as a new installment of Justice League.

A Hollywood Reporter poll noted that Max’s main draw was his universe of titles from the DC comic book publisher.