Soon, when you go to stream Succession or The Last of Us, you'll no longer be looking for an app called HBO Max. As has been rumored, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is changing the name of the streaming service to simply "Max." The company is folding content from Discovery+ into the platform to make it more of a one-stop shop, though Discovery+ will remain as a standalone service in the US.
The big switch will take place on May 23rd in the US — almost exactly three years after HBO Max debuted. WBD previously said it would combine the streaming services sometime this spring. WBD will announce global rollout plans later this year.
WBD CEO David Zaslav suggested during a press event that, in the coming months, Max will fold in sports and other live content. The company plans to add an average of more than 40 new titles and TV show seasons each month.
For many users, the HBO Max will automatically update to Max on May 23rd. Other folks may be prompted to download the new app manually. The Max app will feature a new video playback experience, more personalization and a default kids profile with parental controls for new subscribers. In addition, WBD claims the app will have more streamlined navigation, including hubs for each brand (HBO, TLC, Discovery and so on).
All your data, preferences and account info will migrate over seamlessly to Max, WBD says. The company added that current subscribers will have access to the features of their current plan for at least six months after Max launches. It's worth noting that current plans include 4K streaming, but newcomers will have to pay extra for that privilege.
There will be three pricing tiers. An ad supported plan will cost $10 per month or $100 per year. It will allow users to stream HD video on two devices simultaneously.
The ad-free plan won't have an immediate price hike either, as it will remain $16 per month (or $150 per year) for the time being. WBD raised the price of that plan for the first time back in January. That also supports HD streaming on two devices simultaneously with up to 30 offline downloads.
There will also be a new "ultimate ad-free" plan that costs $20 per month or $200 per year. That's the option you'll need to plump for it you want to stream shows and movies in 4K. It supports Dolby Atmos-supported streams on up to four devices at once with up to 100 downloads for offline viewing.
WBD's presentation highlighted much of the content that's coming to Max, including a first look at The Penguin, an eight-episode miniseries that ties into The Batman. That show will arrive in 2024. An It prequel called Welcome to Derry is on the way next year too.
Additionally, a show set in The Conjuring universe and a Big Bang Theory spin-off are in the pipeline. The company also offered a look at Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, an animated series set long before the events of the Gremlins movies. You'll be able to watch that starting on May 23rd.
There's plenty original HBO programming on the horizon as well. WBD highlighted a new installment of its True Detective anthology series (this time starring Jodie Foster), a Kate Winslet-led limited series called The Regime (previously known as The Palace) and Park Chan-wook's adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer.
On top of that, HBO has just greenlit another Game of Thrones spinoff called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Night. A rumored Harry Potter show has been confirmed too. WBD says it'll take a decade to retell those stories in "a faithful adaptation" of the novels.
Elsewhere, content that was in the works for Discovery+ will move over to Max, such as reality programming featuring Robert Downey Jr. and all-time great snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White. A docuseries featuring Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes as they tour the US with a live version of their podcast, SmartLess, will drop on Max's launch day. Also coming to the platform on May 23rd is Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
There's some logical reasoning behind shortening the name to Max. It's now about more than HBO and nods toward a more expansive array of shows, movies and other content that's on offer. Executives were reportedly concerned that keeping HBO in the platform's name could weaken that brand if consumers associate it with all the content on the platform, such as the impending influx of reality shows from Discovery+.
However, the rebranding strips away the name value of HBO and the implied level of quality that has been associated with that brand for decades. Max is a bad, soulless name with zero identity of its own.
Since WBD was formed as a result of a merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery last year, the company's leadership has overhauled its streaming strategy in a bid to cut costs and improve the bottom line. Executives swung the ax on an array of HBO Max exclusives, reportedly in favor of tax breaks. WBD also removed several shows and many episodes of popular series from HBO Max. The company has started licensing out some of its programming to other platforms to add some extra revenue streams.