If you ever needed an example of how quickly the streaming market evolves and changes then you only need to look at HBO Max. In spite of only launching three years ago, the streaming service is now almost unrecognizable from the service that arrived in May of 2020.
HBO Max became available in the United States on May 27, 2020, exactly three years ago today. The service had been a long time in the works and many were excited about the prospect of a new streaming service that provided access to the deep vaults that WarnerMedia had access to.
At the time of launch, there was only one plan to choose from, the $14.99 per month ad-free plan. For reference, early subscribers who pre-ordered were able to lock in a subscription at just $11.99 per month for the first 12 months. Even though the cost of the ad-free plan increased by $1 per month over the years, there have been far bigger changes in the three years since HBO Max made its debut.
Unquestionably, the biggest change has been the transition to Max. What is unlikely to be just a coincidence, Warner Bros. Discovery (another change) decided to launch the new Max service in exactly the same week that would have marked HBO Max’s third anniversary.
With a new name and look, Max also brought with it a new Ultimate pricing tier and an expanded catalog of content. To highlight just how much more content there is now, HBO Max launched in 2020 with more than 10,000 hours.
In contrast, this week Max launched with more than 35,000 hours of content. This is not only three times as much as HBO Max had at launch, but it’s also twice as much as HBO Max was offering just before the launch of Max.
This additional content has also helped to reshape the very identity of the streaming service. For example, even before HBO Max first launched, WarnerMedia had adopted the ‘Where HBO meets so much more” slogan to emphasize how it is HBO, but not just HBO. It was HBO, to the max, so to speak.
With the launch of Max, the identify couldn’t be any different. Not only has HBO been dropped from the name, but it’s barely recognized at all, and certainly not above any of the other brands. Even the new “The one to watch” slogan avoids any reference to its HBO roots, focusing on all of the brands equally.
One of the reasons the content has expanded so much, and so quickly, is down to another change – ownership. When HBO Max first launched, it was operating under WarnerMedia, the company created in the wake of AT&T’s Time Warner acquisition and by combining the assets of Home Box Office (HBO), Turner Broadcasting System, and Warner Bros. Pictures.
Fast forward to 2022 and WarnerMedia had officially become Warner Bros. Discovery following the merging of WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. the year before. With the two companies coming together, this also led to access to the content vaults of both WarnerMedia and Discovery, eventually leading to the transition from HBO Max to Max.
All in all, the streaming service has changed quite a lot since it arrived in 2020. The question now is, will Max make it to its third anniversary or will there be another big change before then?