HBO Max is offering some guidance for its year-old premium streaming service -- not necessarily for consumers -- but perhaps those of modest media business acumen.
“HBO Max is... like our own cable bundle, and within that bundle there are programming services,” says Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max, during a recent press event.
For consumers, all might be confusing.
Don’t think of this ‘bundle’ with over the air local TV stations, or 200 different channels.
After all, for many, signing on to a brand like HBO Max is to get away from the whole idea of "cable."
Consumers might be thinking of HBO Max for those big theatrically produced movies that can run at the same time as in theaters. Perhaps also top flight HBO-like TV shows.
Bloys point suggests how big brands can promote mini-brands of program studio segments. Think of what Disney does with its Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic brands.
Overall, he says, HBO’s brand’s mission “has not changed.” We guess that means something on the order of “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” That longtime HBO marketing tagline denotes high-quality premium entertainment.
Adding some confusion, HBO Max has launched a cheaper advertising-supported option at $9.99 a month versus the $14.99 price with no ads. Yes, advertising -- just like regular TV -- on an HBO branded service. Does that still sound like premium?
We get it. It’s all about the programming -- which isn’t like traditional regular linear TV networks. Dark-scripted shows, like “Mare of Eastown,” with rough non-FCC-compliant language aren’t an issue in the streaming, internet-delivered world.
Older consumers may have concerns -- as well as veteran advertising executives -- about ad messaging mixing in these kinds of environment. But for new, younger, digital-savvy media consumers, it’s a shrug of the shoulders.
A harder job for consumers still is sifting through a plethora of connected TV choices, as well as those programming “brands” attached to those broader brand names like HBO, Disney, Paramount.
Defining the new world of TV and streaming and digital and media might been a tricky situation. Expect some evolving promotion/advertising messaging to come -- but no "cable" associations.