HBO Maxs 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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