HBO's parent, WarnerMedia, confuses the masses by launching a new, broader streaming service called HBO Max alongside existing services HBO NOW and HBO Go. The reasons why form a complex yet fascinating history of modern American media development.
HBO is the Original TV Subscription Service
When HBO television came into the home through microwave antennas instead of internet tubes, HBO was founded as a paid service for the best content available in sports, comedy, movies, and documentaries. The first broadcast in November 1
Since its inception, HBO has flourished as a subscription-based television service across all satellite, digital, and streaming eras. While it was usually the wealthier households of America that could afford the satellite dishes or cable boxes needed to even access the expensive plan, countless Americans have seen hotels and motels advertise with 'Free HBO'. This replaced the ubiquitous "Free Color TV" attraction.
It was more than exclusive adult and child content that made HBO a national media giant. In addition to the success of HBO's original specials, a steady growth in complicated contracts with customers, partners and competitors has made the HBO brand synonymous with premium content nationally, while at the same time suffering a huge headache from rights restrictions, access issues and exclusivity agreements they all vary based on countless minute factors.
HBO is a jumble of decades-old contractual relationships
In recent decades, HBO has become what it is today through all kinds of consolidations, buyouts, joint venture groups and more business nonsense; all while targeting paying customers who may still have an HBO dish in their backyard (or, God forbid, their front yard). These legal obligations are the main driver behind WarnerMedia & # 39; s decision to "simplify" the problem by launching an entirely new service rather than disentangling this legal nightmare.
HBO & # 39; s first step in the digital space that was launched in 2001: a free add-on service for existing subscribers called HBO On Demand. It is still there, although only existing subscribers can access it. Eight years later, HBO launched HBO on broadband, which was renamed HBO Go the following year. It was functionally similar to HBO On Demand, but instead of being available only to HBO direct subscribers through a cable box, HBO Go was made digitally available through contractual partnerships for customers who had their own contracts with companies such as AT&T, Comcast , Cox, DirecTV, Dish, etc.
But even with the launch of the HBO Go streaming service, the only way to pay for HBO was a subscription through a TV provider. You couldn't pay HBO directly for it.
Fourteen years after the launch of HBO On Demand, HBO created HBO Now as a standalone subscription that could compete with emerging streaming services such as Netflix and the Blockbuster Movie Pass. You could subscribe to it through the HBO website, even without a TV or cable contract.
Since this was HBO's new service, the content was usually limited to HBO originals. In 2020, HBO's parent company, WarnerMedia, developed a massive expansion of HBO Now called HBO Max that will not replace HBO Now, but will leverage the parent's huge stake in the entire media domain to expand the content offering in general .
HBO has a huge existing customer base to consider. Although the number of services is confusing, new and old customers get a better product with HBO Max. In the meantime, HBO can still fulfill the complex contracts with the millions of customers and dozens of partners that HBO has entered into over the past half century.