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HBO MAX: Tell Me What You Really Think

Remember way back when the Warner Bros. streaming service was just a rumor? We all tried to predict what it could possible be, hoping for some new out-of-this-world perfect streaming service that would somehow have everything we ever wanted to watch all in one accessible app! As time went on, we kept getting tidbits of news here and there. We learned AT&T IP’s would be included somehow. But any big details remained shrouded in mystery, like Batman himself. The acquisitions were quite impressive and exciting…

YES IT WILL HAVE STUDIO GHIBLI AND DC!!” And of course, the confirmation that The Snyder Cut REALLY DOES EXIST.

“OH MY GOSH, TMC will have a special curated collection of REAL FILM,” said every cinephile ever.

A lot of DC Comics fans (myself as well) were actually confused as to what would happen to their beloved DC Universe. THANK SUPERHEROES – nothing happened to DC Universe at all! We’re are still working reading the entire backlog of Wonder Woman.

The idea behind HBO MAX is brilliant. It follows the same model as Disney+ - meaning one huge media conglomerate (WarnerMedia) takes all of their properties and puts everything in one place in “curated collections.” However HBO MAX is still the last on the battlefield of "The Streaming Wars" and comes in at $14.99 a month. AT&T’s Otter Media is the company behind HBO MAX. They launched an exact 10,000 hours of content in one day, but have yet to discuss new member subscriptions.

Well, here we are a little over a week after HBO MAX launched. Otherwise known as the day every person with a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV lost their minds because, wait a second…HBO MAX isn’t available on either of those extremely common devices. However, these people had already paid and subscribed during their special promo period. BIG MISTAKE. To be honest, I was laughing a teeny bit under my breath, because I have AppleTV. That is, until I joined in on the screaming because my other rooms all have have Fire TV. I’m not even sure how HBO MAX tech support lived through May 27 2020.

Image Source: Tech Crunch

Tony Goncalves, CEO of Apple’s Otter Media explains (The Verge), “Being available on the platforms that consumers use to access these new networks is really, really important. There are certain business models that exist, and we each have our own. I just go back to the fact that we’re just ... I think we’re just starting from a very, very different place. We have 30-plus million existing subscribers that have already gone in their pocket and voted to subscribe to a product, and we’re making that product better. We think the value prop is there. We just want to be treated fairly. Disney Plus and Netflix and Hulu and these other apps are on those platforms. There’s a certain business model that exists. We just want the same one. I’m hopeful that, ultimately, we’ll get there, and we’ll get there with the consumer in mind. But we just didn’t get there on day one.”

In short HBO MAX did not make deals with Roku or Amazon because they are competitors. HBO MAX made a last-minute deal with Comcast, while Disney+ scooped up Amazon at the last minute. It’s just business, my friends. Either way it puts a huge damper on our previous excitement.

But what about the app itself?

With plenty of time spent checking out every single aspect and functionality of the new app – it’s confusing. The amount of content is impressive but also quite easy to get lost in. It is helpful to have the “curated content” buttons from TCM, Crunchyroll, Studio Ghibli, Sesame, Adult Swim, and Cartoon Network divided up in their own little sections.

The app is bulky compared to the easily accessible HBO NOW. Personally, I got so lost and aggravated that I just picked The Meg to watch because it was a featured shark movie. With a little streamlining and better user experience, the app has much better potential than what we got on launch day. How am I supposed to know what a group of random squares mean? And this isn't my first rodeo either. HBO MAX should be easier to navigate.

And the content?

HBO MAX is referring to itself as a “super-streaming network,” which is technically true. But when you go check out each curated tab something is missing…as in actual content from each network. Each one has maybe 5-10 films or television shows. For all of Crunchyroll there are only a few titles available. 10,000 hours’ worth of content sounds spectacular until you start looking for it. The DC section is easily the worst when compared to what was expected.

What happened was, the marketing campaigns for HBO MAX all included scenes from the three best DC Comic films of all time – The Dark Knight Trilogy. Upon further investigation, there is nothing NOLAN available, the animated films (which are tentpoles in the comics community) are lacking, and a lot of TV shows are missing. Like you can’t put Constantine in there? The point here is please don’t market things you don’t HAVE. Just don’t take away DC Universe and we’re good.

Angry they are not on HBO MAX. Image Source: PluggedIn

What’s really impressive is the TCM content. I’ve been able to watch classic films, almost Criterion style, over and over. There are so many Oscar-winning films that you won’t know where to start. If you haven’t seen John Wayne’s The Searchers,The 400 Blows, Seven Samurai…I highly suggest you do.

The Turner Classic Movie content is a pure cinephiles dream world!

Of course, people like Harry Potter, Friends, and Looney Tunes – but is there anyone out there that hasn’t already watched these titles on multiple other streaming services? It just feels like there is nothing new here, except for the introduction of HBO MAX original content.

The original content that launched first is very diverse and inclusive, which is great. Each film or TV show caters to a specific demographic. We’ve got an amazing documentary On The Record about the #MeToo movement and Russel Simmons, a new season of Looney Tunes without Elmer’s rifle, a fab drag queen Ballroom competition show, Anna Kendrick (America’s sweetheart) in a very mature comedy/love series, and Elmo’s own late night show.

Image Source: TIME

Most of these titles are for mature audiences, the documentary even has a trigger warning attached to it. While these titles are great for what they are, there is nothing for a general audience…not one thing. We can only hope for more family-friendly original content or just something like exactly what Netflix is doing.

We can’t ignore the highly acclaimed HBO original series because they are all fabulous (yes even the last season of Game of Thrones.) There they are, all in one place. For someone who has never seen The Wire, you have no excuse now. A new series, Betty, resonates with today’s youth (and me) who are yearning to just be themselves, whether you are into skating or not. Don't worry, friends, HBO will still have plenty of original content coming our way.

On launch day, HBO MAX was a slight disappointment. I wanted to give it time, really play around with the app, and dive deep into the content before declaring it a failure. Mainly because it’s not a failure at all. HBO MAX is a brilliant idea that just needs some more work, or finishing touches. It’s worth the money, especially if you already had HBO NOW and just got transferred over, but also if you want access to a TON of movies and Friends. So, try it out now or wait for The Snyder Cut. Play around with it and make up your own mind. There is still more to come.

Tell us what your experience with HBO MAX has been so far!

HBO MAX is now available on all iOS and Android devices.

Amy Awes0me is the Editor-in-Chief of Kulture Popped. When she grows up she wants to be Wonder Woman.

Catch her on Twitter at @AmyAwes0me

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