After about a month of promotional campaign, Latin America has a new streaming service: HBO Max. This platform, released in the United States on May 27, 2020, brings together more than ten thousand hours of content belonging to WarnerMedia in one place. Although that fact is already remarkable, after trying HBO Max there are several other issues that stand out about this new service.
Before delving into the look at HBO Max, consider the general context. The television and entertainment consumer paradigm was altered in 2007. That year, Netflix began offering a video-on-demand service through computers. It was the genesis of the enjoyment of television products through streaming, with a more personalized experience in relation to traditional or satellite television.
Technology through, the development was such that these spaces could no longer only enjoy the rights of some productions; They also began to produce proposals, as if saying to the big studios: “I don’t need you anymore.” Faced with this alert, and warning of a business possibility, hehe big firms also entered that arena. That explains the development of Disney Plus, for example, and also that of HBO Max: the production companies also want to group their audiences.
HBO Max: a tour of its platform
Along these lines, that of integrating content in one place, HBO Max offers the products of TNT, truTV, Max Originals, DC, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, Adult Swin, Warner Bros and HBO. To this is added the exclusivity on film premieres, in times where cinemas still do not register commercial activity prior to the appearance of COVID-19.
The HBO Max website
After the creation of the user (depending on the plan, between one and five profiles can be configured, for adults or children), the initial home of the platform stands out for its color and simplicity. Vivid tones, marked contrasts and a detail that is appreciated: the featured or promotional content is not a trailer or sequence of images activating automatically. Rather, HBO Max offers a banner, accompanied by the option to play or get more information; when not, it is just a sequence of images that is not invasive.
The first contact during the HBO Max test sets the tone for what you see. Although the platform raises different categories (like all of them), its proposal is still a suggestion, a novelty, rather than an imposition. By dispensing with the automatic playback of a video when entering or positioning yourself on a production, in addition to the above, it does a favor to users with old computers or mobile subscribers who value each downloaded data.
There are more than thirty initial categories to browse. Added to this is the option of creating a personalized list within the options of each profile. Of those main sections, we highlight the following through the HBO Max test.
“Movies We Love”
A mix of productions developed over different years. From Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins, 2020) to The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006), through 300 (Zack Snyder, 2006). A brief sample of the size of the options catalog.
“Made in Latin America”
The section dedicated to regional cinema. There are series, films and even concerts, from Un gallo para Esculapio (2017) –one of the best Argentine series of that year– to Por la Máscara (2018) through Shakira in concert: El dorado world tour (2020).
The children’s block, with a handful of classics from contemporary series and productions. Some of them are Justice League Action, Looney Tunes Cartoons, Dora, the Explorer, The Crazy Car Race and Space Jam: Game of the Century (Joe Pytka, 1996).
“The best franchises in the world”
One of the most solid sections, taking into account that they bring together several of the most important franchises of the last twenty years, judging by their box office success, cultural influence and academy criteria. Some of them are: The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2005, 2008, 2012), The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003), Mad Max (George Miller, 1979, 1981, 2015. Not available Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome).
“Classics of all time”
Another of the richest blocks on the platform. Several of these films were either missing from other services or scattered. Some of the options are: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942), Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939), All the President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick , 1968) and Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
A key point of this last block: the dubbing option. While it is often convenient to listen to movies in their original audio, not all people have the facility to read subtitles and there are others who prefer to listen in their language. Having this catalog of digital classics is one of the great achievements of HBO Max.
The design of the platform and its navigation is friendly. Just click on any of the posters of the films or series to know details about the production (without it being reproduced automatically): duration, category, year of release, quality of reproduction or chapters. To this is added a brief synopsis and associated content. After the related block, you will find more information: cast, producers, director and screenwriter.
If you are not so curious, before entering that layer you can press play and start playback. During it, the resolution is adapted according to the connectivity and here it may be, perhaps, one of the few inconveniences of the service: the subtitles are not centered.
Related to that point, there is a subtitle menu. Although, at least during the HBO Max test done for this analysis, they cannot be centered, it is possible to adjust the font, size, opacity, color and other issues. When the left alignment is resolved, the detail that is now causing discomfort it could become a virtue by offering the possibility to adjust them to taste.
The platform is completed with two menus. The one on the left works like the tabs in the library. The content is distributed by genres, categories and labels, such as HBO or DC. The one on the right groups the profile configuration options. Here are the account details, device management, as well as other alternatives.
The HBO Max Mobile App
The app for mobile devices is a reflection of the previous virtues. Easy navigation, attractive colors and information layout. Although the speed in data reception and movement is associated with the quality of the connection and the type of equipment of each user, simplicity is once again an ally.
As it is not full of automatic trailers and adapts the resolution quality of the image according to the reception of data, the platform adapts to different contexts without demanding too much from the user, except move your gaze a little when reading the subtitles. At the time of this review, the application in the Android Play Store has 3.1 stars, with more than 76 thousand registered votes.
After testing HBO Max and reviewing the opinion on networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Play Store, the overall balance is positive, except for comments related to subtitles. Added to this is something raised by a user as a suggestion: It would be convenient if you could make evaluations of series and movies, at least within the personal list. That recommendation is already present on platforms such as Letterboxd, perhaps the paradigm in terms of the cinephile community and the digital seriéfila community.
In relation to the section of trailers, perhaps it is one of the points on which there is more discussion. There are those who consider that they should be, others who are not and, also, those who think that they should be but not reproduce automatically. Tastes and colors. In any case, HBO Max’s decision contributes to its navigation and data management, something key in Latin America where connectivity in many regions is not ideal.
This streaming service is understood as a necessary step for WarnerMedia. Its contents, distributed on different platforms and services, did not have a place of their own until now. The best of all? That doesn’t just benefit the company. Although the platform is not innovative, its simplicity is a robust attribute. Combining it with the richness of its catalog – in addition to the next series launches and updates – HBO Max offers a fresh and pleasant experience for its subscribers (and that is at half price).