June 16, 2020

HBO Go axed in branding cleanup; also, HBO Max comics?

HBO Go axed in branding cleanup; also, HBO Max comics?

Since HBO Max‘s launch several weeks ago, AT&T and WarnerMedia haven’t rested on trying to make the new service a thing. So far, we’ve gotten two developments: A) an attempt to clear up HBO Max’s confusing branding, and B) promoting the service through… comics?

HBO Go axed

HBO Max categories
HBO Max categories. (HBO Max / screenshot by author)

Until now, HBO’s come in several different and confusingly marketed flavors:

  • HBO: The regular cable TV channel
  • HBO Go: The “TV Everywhere” streaming app that allows regular-HBO subscribers to stream it on various apps, using their cable TV login.
  • HBO Now: The stand-alone HBO streaming service.
  • HBO Max: The new streaming service meant to compete with Netflix, Hulu, etc.; basically “HBO with a hodgepodge of WarnerMedia stuff tacked on” (Looney Tunes, sitcoms, DC Comics, etc.).

At Max’s launch, there was much confusion about who can access the service, on what devices, the varying brand names, and so on.

Now comes word that AT&T plans to clean some of this up. Basically, HBO Go is being dropped; the existing HBO Now app will be rebranded as plain “HBO.” Max stays as-is.

This helps clear things up a bit, I suppose, though conveying all this clearly to the public is still a concern. HBO Max is still unavailable on Roku and Fire TV devices, yet the HBO Now app is available, which might also explain the renaming.

That said, I still think naming the service after Warner Bros. would’ve been better. HBO has a pretty strong public image already, one that’s more “Game of Thrones” than “Looney Tunes.”

DC Comics releases HBO Max promotional comics

To the Max: Hector #1
“To the Max: Hector” #1. Art by Jim Lee. (DC Comics)

That said, AT&T is using another tactic to promote HBO Max. HBO Max has teamed up with fellow AT&T/WarnerMedia corporate cousin DC Comics to release three free digital-only comics:

The stories feature three different people meeting a dog named “Max,” who leaves them with a remote-like device that grants them superpowers. The people then use their new powers (and purple “Max”-labeled costume) to save the day.

Promotional comics aren’t unusual, as there’s been plenty dating back decades. What is unusual, however, is making one for a streaming service, something I’ve never seen before. Even Disney didn’t have Marvel produce one for Disney+. Which might explain why the stories in all three of these don’t have much to do with watching TV, save for somebody actually watching HBO Max in one story.

Apparently the names of the characters, Hector, Brian, and Olivia, were chosen to spell out “HBO.” Along similar lines, the stories mention the characters hoping to live up to their “Max-imum potential.” The stories also don’t seem set in the DC Universe, though the public here seem similarly welcoming of superheroes.

Online reaction to these books seem mixed. Engadget ran an article titled “DC is making HBO Max-inspired comic books for some reason.” Meanwhile, The Verge’s article on this is titled “AT&T turned HBO Max into a superhero with comic book,” but the subtitle is “I don’t know why either.”

Tags: AT&TDC ComicsHBOHBO Maxstreaming videoTechWarnerMedia