Max, Warner Bros. Discovery, the bundled and enhanced streaming service that replaces HBO Max, will debut in the US on Wednesday (May 23). Max is making several subtle improvements aimed at making the service easier to use and more engaging — while execs say it should also be more stable than HBO Max.
According to the company, “a significant portion” of HBO Max subscribers will automatically update their apps to Max — while in some cases, users will be required to download an updated Max app. If all goes as planned, HBO Max subscribers will get their previous plan (including username, password, and billing information), profiles, avatars, and settings including Continue Watching and My List items to the new cap. .
See also: What Max Launch means for existing HBO Max customers
For the Max launch, WBD set up “war rooms” in multiple locations around the world — including in Bellevue, Washington, New York and London — with personnel monitoring systems set up to trigger up to 1,000 alerts if anything went wrong. “The whole team is on standby,” says Avi Saxena, Warner Bros. head of discovery.
According to WBD, new app updates for the Max will be rolling out every few weeks, starting in mid-June. The company says it will evaluate customer feedback on a daily basis to prioritize new features and fixes.
Max is available on the same platforms as HBO Max, including: iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG Smart TV, Roku, Samsung TV, Vizio SmartCast TV, PlayStation 4, 5 and Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, and web browsers (including Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge for Windows, and Apple Safari).
Here are the main differences between Max and HBO Max:
- More than twice content: Max comes out of the gate with 35,000 hours of programming, more than double what was on HBO Max. This is thanks in large part to the hundreds of shows that have been added from HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID, Magnolia Network, and other old Discovery Networks. Bonus content includes the seasons “House Hunters”, “Property Brothers”, “Chopped”, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, “Say Yes to the Dress”, “Deadliest Catch”, “Fixer Upper” and “Magnolia’s Table with Joanna Gaines” and more.
- More stable performance with new video playback experience: Max runs on a newly rebuilt codebase to provide more consistent and stable performance across all devices, according to Saxena, who says the built-in Max combines the best elements of both HBO Max and Discovery+. “Discovery+ was only created two years ago, so it has a very strong platform,” says Saxena. HBO Max had some performance issues. About 50% of Max uses existing code from one of the previous platforms, while the other 50% is new, he says. The new video playback experience in the app is designed to deliver “smooth and cinematic video,” according to WBD.
- Simplified navigation: Overall, Max has streamlined categories, improved content detail pages, custom brand hubs, and thematic content bars to make finding content and discovering new TV shows and movies faster and easier. While dropping HBO from the service’s name, the top of the connected TV menu features a dedicated HBO tab to emphasize that it’s still an essential part of the service. Max UI’s left bar on TVs only has four items (Search, Home, My Stuff and Settings) — while HBO Max had 45, including submenus. Additionally, on some platforms, Max features an easier login process that allows you to scan a QR code or use Wi-Fi-based login features.
- New customization features: On HBO Max, content recommendations only appeared on the home screen. Max extends that to provide personalized content recommendations for each user profile across the entire service, based on viewing activity (like HBO Max, Max doesn’t include user ratings at this point). Additionally, after you finish a TV show or season, a new ending card recommendation (which WBD calls a “genre finale”) will suggest other content to watch.
- New 4K Plan: Max is available in three tiers, two at the same prices as previous HBO Max plans plus a new premium option that includes 4K Ultra HD content and up to four simultaneous streams:
- Maximum Ads ($9.99 per month or $99.99 per year): Two simultaneous streams, HD video resolution, no offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
- Ads Free Max ($15.99 per month or $149.99 per year): 2 simultaneous streams, HD video resolution, 30 offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
- Max Ultimate Ad Free ($19.99/month or $199.99/year): 4 simultaneous streams, 4K Ultra HD content, 100 offline downloads, immersive audio with Dolby Atmos (may have limitations in some content categories). The expanded 4K UHD content catalog will include more than 1,000 movies and TV episodes; All Warner Bros. films have been released. This year and moving forward as they arrive at Max after their theatrical windows.
- More notable children’s experience: Max offers a default Kids profile for new subscribers along with accompanying parental controls, including the ability to restrict content by ratings, to lock out access to adult profiles; To prevent children from exiting the children’s profile. By default, children’s profiles are set to only allow access to content that has ratings of PG and TV-PG or lower.
- New download experience for offline viewing: According to WBD, Max features a new download experience intended to address issues with HBO Max, which didn’t always work reliably.
- Codes for extended profile avatars: Max will have more than 350 profile icons for users to choose from, after adding around 100 new avatars for characters like Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dobby, Voldemort, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid from Harry Potter; Joel, Ellie, and Flickr from The Last of Us; Tanya, Portia, and Valentina from The White Lotus; and Peacemaker, Emilia Harcourt, and Adrienne Chase from “Peacemaker.” Also available are avatars from Discovery shows such as Chip & Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper”, Guy Fieri from “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives”, Bobby Flay from Beat Bobby Flay, Jonathan and Drew Scott from “Property Brothers”, Dr. Sandra Lee from Dr. Pimple Popper”, Trixie Mattel from “Trixie Motel”, Annie Suwan and Kenny Niedermeier from the 90 Day Fiancé franchise, and an assortment of sharks such as Tiger, Whale, Hammerhead, Bull and Mako from Discovery’s Shark Week. These are in addition to the characters that were available on HBO Max from classics such as “Game of Thrones”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “The Sopranos”, “Friends”, “The House of the Dragon”, “Insecure” and “Succession”. “The Hacks” and “The West Wing”.
- New ad formats: The ad experience on the Max With Ads plan will continue to deliver among the lightest ad loads in the industry (3-4 minutes per hour), the company says. Max will integrate ad formats from HBO Max and Discovery+. This will include traditional pre-roll ads (15 seconds), mid-roll ads (15 or 30 seconds), and takeovers (which allow an advertiser to be the first ad that all users see on the platform for a day, with ownership of the pre-roll and first-run ad in the first stream for each consumer); Brand Block, which allows a single brand to exclusively own every ad moment within a piece of content; InFront, which allows brands to nurture an exclusive ad-free experience for viewers by eliminating all mid-roll ads in exchange for pre-roll ads; Interactive ads and pause on-screen ads when the customer initiates a pause.
- Accessibility features: At launch, the Max will offer 6,500 hours of audio descriptive content. Now that includes shows from lifestyle brands like Magnolia, TLC, and HGTV, as well as HBO and Max originals. Additionally, at launch, Max will support screen reader technology on the web, Roku, Vizio, LG, Samsung, Xbox, PlayStation 5, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android Mobile, Android TV, Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, DirecTV and Comcast and Cox.
See also: Max Launch: All the TV shows and movies coming to the expanded streaming service
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