HBO Weeds Out Brand Name Extensions

Brand extensions have always sounded like a great marketing tool for the disruption media age. But if you can’t distinguish between variations on the theme, you’re probably causing viewer fatigue.

For example, brand exhaustion has come to HBO. So here’s a quick quiz: What’s the difference between HBO Go, HBO, HBO Now, and HBO Max.

Ah, not so easy.

Don’t worry. AT&T’s WarnerMedia is clearing up the confusion.

Headed out the door is HBO Go, an app that was only available to pay TV network service subscribers already subscribing to HBO. Those subscribers needed to use a pay TV provider login information, under the formerly much maligned “TV Everywhere” initiative by many companies. That goes away July 31.

Also on the outs is HBO Now, essentially the first iteration of HBO Max, which starting in 2015. It was a separate streaming version of the cable TV network, but more limited in terms of content than the channel. You didn’t need to be a cable subscriber to get it.



HBO Now subscribers will be shifted, for the most part, to HBO Max, a bigger service in terms of overall content.

That said, WarnerMedia says some streaming devices may not be immediately supported on the new service, due to some stalled negotiations among third-party retailers, like Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

Which means HBO Now will be rebranded as "HBO” — with just HBO programming. (Still, with me?)

That brings us to HBO Max -- which not only includes HBO, but Warner Bros.' current library of movie and TV content, stuff that runs on TNT, TBS, in syndication, etc.

Perhaps the easiest decision was just shifting -- at no cost -- all those HBO Now streamers to HBO Max subscribers. At $15 a month, users immediately are getting more content. What’s not to like?

Confusion is one thing. But there is also bland, watered-down brand-marketing efforts to make everything look and feel the same on TV platforms.

A few years ago, Discovery Inc., eliminated much of this from its two dozen networks or so with a Discovery forename attached.  Gone are Discovery Time, Discovery Civilization, Discovery Science, Discovery HD Theater, Discovery Wings, Discovery Home and Leisure.

There’s your brand extension overload.

What remains are channels with more individual profiles, such as Investigation ID, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV and yes, Discovery.

Back to AT&T: In July 2019, it announced the whole HBO Max service. While it gets credit for simplifying, there is other cable network weeding to consider.

On my DirecTV, I have networks such as HBO East, HBO Comedy, HBO Family, HBO 2, HBO Signature,  HBO Zone, HBO Latino, Cinemax, Action Max, 5 Star Max, More Max, Movie Max and Thriller Max. And, of course, Mad Max. (Sorry, I made that one up.)

Thankfully, I don’t have something called Home Box Office to consider.

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