HBO Max’s asinine rebranding to just Max plagued by technical problems

The “rebranding” of HBO Max to just “Max” was a bad idea to begin with. I have a background in marketing so it annoys me as a professional to see it messed up so badly. Taking “HBO” out of “HBO Max” is like taking “Coke” out “Diet Coke.” It just becomes “Diet.” It’s taking away the brand that people know and trust. When you say “HBO” you associate it with high-quality TV shows for adults. Anyway apparently the universe agrees with me because the rollout of “Just Max” (which is what I’m calling it) is cursed. Rather than changing the app name, the geniuses at Warner Bros Discovery are making everyone download a new app all over again. And the new app has been plagued with problems.

Things went south as soon as the new app launched: HBO Max, now rebranded as Max, had a less-than-ideal launch on Tuesday, with many subscribers reporting ongoing issues with the app. The problems may have stemmed from Max creating an entirely new app, rather than simply renaming its existing one, and many subscribers were displeased, saying they couldn’t log in or that the app had completely crashed.

The app is telling people it’s “not available” in their region: Subscribers took to Twitter to complain about the error message, with one person tweeting: “Let me get this straight. We pay for HBO Max, but now that it is just @StreamOnMax our house is suddenly no longer in a region that streams Max? (Last time I looked our condo is still in the US of A.)”
Even if you could get the app, you couldn’t watch anything: The outages were reported in the early morning on Downdetector with complaints ranging from a lag in video streaming to subtitles not matching the scene. Others reported they could watch trailers but not the TV show or movie, have new 60-second commercials when they try to stream, and screen blackouts that allowed them to hear the audio but have no picture.

“Just Max” isn’t helping people fix the problem: The streaming service has not provided instructions on how to fix the problem, nor has it posted a finite resolution on its site, if anything, it makes the swap more complicated, not less. On its site, Max says if subscribers receive a message saying the app isn’t available in their region, they should follow four steps including unblocking the IP address, restarting the network device, contacting their internet service provider, and as a last-ditch effort, contact Max.

[From Gizmodo]

This is giving off the vibe of a stressed-out team racing to meet some executive’s arbitrary deadline. But also, why make people download a new app? The user experience is supposed to be as seamless as possible, and the most successful brands understand that. Introducing that level of hassle means that people who were not super stoked on HBO Max won’t be motivated to update. Friction derails a good customer experience. Rebranding is always hard but if there’s a reason why a brand does it, people will accept it. All of this comes across like a corporate merger gone wrong, not a company re-assessing their values in a constructive way. It’s just the latest misstep for Warner Brothers in a long list.

They also tried to list writers, producers, and directors together under a “creators” section in the credits. Writers and directors are not interchangeable. Sometimes a person can be both a writer and director, but these roles are not the same thing and they shouldn’t be lumped in together. It’s not a correct or appropriate way to credit people’s work. It would be like lumping together all the musicians in the liner notes of an album as “creators” instead of crediting them with the instruments they played on a track. HBO quickly walked this back. With the writers’ strike as a backdrop, it’s hard not to interpret this as a sign of just how little Hollywood execs value the people who make the content they rely on. They won’t even credit them properly, let alone pay them a living wage.

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49 Responses to “HBO Max’s asinine rebranding to just Max plagued by technical problems”

  1. Doublesteff says:

    I hope it blows up completely, no one spends the ridiculous money they want, and this cracker get fired. This involves so many mistakes on multiple services. I’m gonna sit back and sip a beverage while this implodes. (Fingers crossed) also you can’t just sign into the new app. You have to reset your password. F that guy.

    • BeanieBean says:

      It’s actually pretty funny coming so soon after the debacle of the desatan twitter announcement. Who’s making these stupid decisions? Willing to bet they’re making way too much money & yes! don’t give them bonuses! And how do you list the stars of Raging Bull and NOT begin with Robert DeNiro???

  2. Another Anne says:

    Mess. I was able to log in on tv and laptop after a few tries, but still can’t get app to work on my phone.

    There’s zero reason for making people download a new app. All it does is aggravate your customers. This company is run by morons.

    • Kelly says:

      It took me a few tries to log in which was annoying, but I haven’t tried to actually watch anything on the new app yet. I didn’t have to download anything new on my tv but I did when I used my tablet.

      What really annoys me the most though is that this was billed as a big merger between HBO and Discovery. I thought I’d be able to cancel my Discovery+ subscription, but they only seem to have half the channels that discovery runs.

      • tealily says:

        What do you mean? I did a scroll through and found most of what I’ve been watching on Discovery+. We were planning to cancel that. What’s missing?

      • Kelly says:

        Maybe I missed it or they hadn’t loaded everything when I looked? I didn’t see anything from animal planet or science channel or A&E. But then it doesn’t seem like they fully finished the new platform before it launched. If I can find everything I liked I won’t keep discovery.

      • tealily says:

        Ohhhhh! I don’t really watch the content from those particular channels, so I didn’t notice. I might have to take another look before we cut it off. It doesn’t help that they make it so hard to search! I found one show that I know was actually on Destination America under the Travel Channel tab, so maybe the stuff is there but under a different umbrella. If I have to go to the search bar for every individual show I watch, though, I’ll probably stop watching them.

  3. Laurel says:

    And, if you can stream things, it doesn’t remember where you were. My husband is in the middle of an ER binge and it doesn’t remember the last episode he watched – it always starts him at season 1, episode 1. This is a pain, especially in a series with over 300 episodes!

  4. Twin Falls says:

    I got the message to upload a new app and sign in again and instead I canceled my subscription.

  5. Lizzie Bathory says:

    An absolute mess. And not properly crediting people is a violation of like, a bazillion contracts *in addition* to getting the unions even more pissed off than they already were.

    If you embarked upon a Mean Girls-esque quest to tank a brand like Regina George, I’m not sure you could do a better job.

  6. Jessamine says:

    Ugh. Tried to download the new app to my TV and now I have to remember/change my Samsung login as well. I hate this.

  7. Ula1010 says:

    Did I imagine getting an email leading up to this saying that my app would update itself? I thought that was going to happen. I had to search thru Twitter to figure out how to get the new app to work on my TV. It was available but wouldn’t install.

    The previous app would often stop playing in the middle of shows, especially if I was binging, and that’s still a problem.

    They knew what they were doing with that Creators business. Shady. Shady.

  8. Izzy says:

    So they do a pointless, unnecessary rebrand, completely screw it up, and then blame the internet and its providers instead of themselves. Got it.

    • Christine says:

      I was around when HBO and Cinemax began, and HBO was the better content provider, unless you wanted soft porn. Changing HBO to Max is like Macy’s rebranding to Sears, or something equally nonsensical, IMO.

  9. girl_ninja says:

    I have given up on the Max. I used to have HBO Go and really enjoyed HBO but no way am I getting board with this mess. It has been interesting watching these execs ruin a legendary brand tho.

  10. Rapunzel says:

    And you can’t find a lot of Discovery+ stuff. It’s insanely bad.

    • tealily says:

      Yeah, the search on those channels is going to take some getting used to. I miss the browse by subject function.

      • Rapunzel says:

        What I meant is there’s literally stuff on discovery+ that is not on Max. I was using Discovery+ to watch a show that is literally not on the Max app now.

  11. ariel says:

    I don’t currently have hbo (i like to switch up my streaming apps- currently have showtime for Yellowjackets)

    I read on twitter (take it for what it’s worth) that the titles on “max” are alphabetized with all the “The _____” titles listed under “the”. Which is insane.

  12. Doppelgangers R'Us says:

    My daughter is really the only who streams content here. (I download things I own mostly.) So I am sure she already knows about this FU. We have this as part of our wireless package, so it won’t cost me anything, but this is the worst branding/business decision since New Coke. And I thought CineMax was already just Max… 🤷🏼‍♀️

    • Ponchorella says:

      This! I was going to post the same thing. What genius didn’t realize that this would create confusion between “premier programming” HBO and “softcore” (or at least it was back in the day) skinemax? I’m in my 40’s, and this is surely going to confuse some older subscribers.

      I really like HBO, but the addition of a bunch of HGTV type drivel to the lineup does nothing but aggravate me. Max can go F himself.

  13. Torttu says:

    I am sick of apps and passwords and endless signing in.
    Also, I don’t really want to see Chip and Joanna Gaines just about everywhere all the time.

  14. Twin Falls says:

    So I work in an industry that’s pretty old school and a tech minded management team was brought in who hired all of these people who had great energy and will to succeed but lacked any actual knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the industry and its operations. It was a spectacular failure.
    Anyway, sometimes you have to know how a wheel actually works before you can reinvent it.

  15. Isabella says:

    Really? Right before Succession finale? It’s like they hate their own service.

  16. Meh says:

    Technology is standing in solidarity with writers. Karma is pro-union. Love to see it.

  17. MrsH says:

    This whole merger sucks. I had some of these issues mentioned but after I got through I did not spend too much time in there because just poking around was aggravating. I miss the left pane menu that HBO had and now it seems I have to search for quality content while TLC and other crap reality shows are prominent.

    I want my HBO back. I didn’t have Discovery whatever for a reason.

  18. BeanieBean says:

    Anybody else look at that photo & think, ‘Max Headroom’? Just me?

  19. ThatsNotOkay says:

    When I saw I had to download a new app, I noped. I decided to stream on my computer. Went to and was rerouted to I’m going to continue to type in hbomax and get rerouted for the foreseeable future, because this whole thing is so stupid.

  20. D says:

    The interface is awful. You can’t find anything other than original HBO shows, but only certain ones. My regular HBO app was super glitchy the last few weeks so I knew they were going to be doing something and that it would be a mess. If I can’t watch Succession on Sunday I will lose my mind.

    • zazzoo says:

      After episode 3 of the Last of Us skyrocketed awareness of the show, the app was pretty glitchy for the drop of episode 4. I’m worried as we all are about the Succession Finale and completely puzzled at the timing of this.

  21. zazzoo says:

    It’s such a bizarre content dump. I also subscribed to Discovery+ because I love the home improvement shows, but I’ve since cancelled that subscription now that they’re all on Max. Not complaining about having one fewer subscription, but the whole platform makes no sense. Why would the the platform with some of the highest quality programming in existence (some competition with Apple+, BritBox, and Acorn, but it outpaces Showtime and Prime by legions) add thousands of hours of reality tv content to its catalog? What is even the goal?

  22. Glamarazzi says:

    I use it on my smart tv and it seemed to work ok. It did make me scan a QR code, and then it relaunched, but we’ve experienced no problems with it. Grateful to be one of the few who hasn’t, because if we weren’t able to watch the Succession finale it would have been revolution in this house.

  23. WriterLady says:

    As someone who actually works at WBD, and who worked on the Max app, I can tell you it’s way more complicated than the Gizmodo article or this post have framed it.

  24. tealily says:

    So far, I don’t mind the app overall. I wish it was a little more easily searchable, and I wish the stuff I had been watching on Discovery+ could have carried over some kind of way so that I didn’t lose my place, but my main complaint is that I pay for add-free and yet there still a blip at each ad break, as if it’s going to cut to commercials. Occasionally, it just cuts out and freezes and I have to back out and reopen the program. Why would I pay extra for that? Might as well have ads!

  25. Kim says:

    The older internet people always said “don’t advertise”. This is why. Now we have people who are thoughtless hopping on the internet bringing their authority.

    Having a new app isn’t a bad idea. It’s that they didn’t test it. They should’ve test the app over months.

    New ceo guy probably doesn’t use apps. Probably doesn’t use Netflix. Numbers guy instead of hands on.

    • Deering24 says:

      Anyone who knows even a little about launching a new app or platform knows you have to test it instead of just dumping it. With tech, it’s always a matter of when will new stuff screw up, not if.

  26. Dee Kay says:

    That Zaslav guy from Discovery who’s now running Warner and HBO post-merger is clearly a super idiot. I hate what he’s doing to the HBO brand but kind of love watching him f–k it up so spectacularly. He is really sinking to new depths of business and brand management, it’s kind of amazing to see.

    • The Recluse says:

      He’s bungling everything and alienating their audience so thoroughly.
      May his dumba$$ reign be brief.

    • Sportie says:

      Karma …. the founder of HBO Inc and his son’s are ardent supporters of Tr*ump and have even had weddings etc at Mar A Lardo.

  27. adrienne says:

    This mess and Netflix deciding to charge $8 to share your account with another household is making me want to just cancel both. I switched over to Max because I do want to watch the Succession finale this weekend and I’m currently watching Love and Death, but I might be done after those shows end. I’m tired of all these streaming shenanigans.

  28. Nikki (49) says:

    yeah, someone said real genius dropping HBO and calling yourself MAX when there’s already CINEMAX. it’s like COKE rebranding itself as PEPSI.

  29. Beeks says:

    Canceled my subscription over this f*#%ery

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