BY JOHN CARTER JR
With HBO Max’s recent launch and arrival on the on-demand scene, the streaming war has officially begun. Walt Disney or the Warner Brothers didn’t have the foresight to see the juggernauts that their companies would become nor did they have the foresight to see the intense rivals that would develop during their long run. Some might say that HBO Max is late into the streaming service game, as HBO Go and Now have been operating for a while. However, HBO Max is the Super Saiyan form of HBO Now, as the former name will be replacing the latter. That being said, an analysis of the content and format of HBO Max at launch to see if it stacks up to its opponents ( most specifically Netflix and Disney+) is due.
When looking at the launch of original content on HBO Max’s first day, there weren’t a plethora of options. Unlike Netflix, which has a history of creating original content, Disney+ and HBO Max didn’t launch with many original titles. That said, HBO Max launched with a measly amount of original works by comparison. However, that doesn’t distract from the quality of these works’ contents focused around LGBTQ+ actors and actresses, including new shows Legendary and We Are Here which both exemplify the status of the HBO brand by producing not only entertaining but high-quality television.
Elmo of Sesame Street gets his own late-night show on HBO Max, which is not only entertaining for children but is also a joy for parents as well. Then there are the Looney Tunes Cartoons which are a sort of reboot or homage to the classic Looney Tunes. While these works are great they are certainly not enough and do not necessarily stack up to the star power of Disney+’s The Mandalorian or Lady and the Tramp remake which were both available upon the release of Disney+. Netflix on the other hand has a long history of massively successful original content including Orange Is the New Black, Stranger Things, Bojack Horseman, Black Mirror, and many more. If HBO Max and Disney+ want to consistently compete with Netflix in this regard, and they will need to, then they need to keep up on their promises of original content.
However, HBO Max’s saving grace in the content department has to be its collection of quality animated works. Ranging from a catalog of Studio Ghibli works including dubbed and subbed content, to a selection of the Cartoon Network catalog of cartoons including a range of classic to modern works. Not to mention a selection of the popular Adult Swim animation catalog, including works like Rick and Morty, Samurai Jack, and The Boondocks.
HBO Max also has a fine selection of anime for its lunch, something that is completely lacking on Disney+’s end. It is no joke that the Studio Ghibli films are legendary grabs for HBO Max as their legacy on name alone attracts the attention of many animation fans. Not only is their addition to the HBO Max library exciting, but it is also ironic given quite a few dubs of these films were completed by the Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney company does have a popular legacy collection of animation at their hands and using that content to produce new projects could prove to be its way of satisfying its customer base to the same extent as HBO Max.
One more notable area of HBO Max’s collection of content that helps it stand up against its competitors is its collection of legacy content including the entire Harry Potter franchise, the Batman franchise of films in its majority, Turner Classic Films (including some select Judy Garland flicks), select HBO television series, a grand selection of horror films, and a few other DC franchise picks. This selection of content, in particular, hints at its potential for original content, recent releases, and new content to hit HBO Max.
For example with a good selection of Scooby-Doo content, fans can only hope the recent release of Scoob will find its way to HBO Max so we can avoid paying $20 for watching a film one time. That being said a fair amount of Disney properties (like the aforementioned Lady and the Tramp remake) went to Disney+ quite quickly and Netflix doesn’t have theatrical releases. This is a distinct save in money that Disney offers over HBO Max.
In some cases, there is no need to be hopeful in that certain original content has been announced already to give us hopes for the future of HBO Max including a reboot of the legendary Boondocks series by Aaron McGruder, the Snyder Cut Justice League, Adventure Time Distant Lands, A Gremlins reboot, and much much more. As mentioned before it seems what HBO Max has to offer is its quality animation products that validate the legacy of the Cartoon Network brand and its dedication to quality animation.
While it has only been out for a short while fans have already started to feel like there is something missing from HBO Max especially at launch. Not only did Disney+ do it much earlier in the year but they were able to launch with some impressive original content. HBO Max has made a few exciting promises to its audiences in the potential new content coming to the service. They will have more to look forward to in the coming months when it comes to what HBO Max has to bring to the table, and furthermore how it will stand against other juggernauts in the Streaming Wars.