Don’t Count Out HBO Max in 2021

Hope all readers who celebrate enjoyed their Christmas. This morning I’m thinking more about HBO Max and their plans for 2021.

Forgive me for not crying for directors who have movies that will end up day-and-date releases in 2021 on HBO Max. Certainly not going to feel sorry for people like Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot who received millions, allegedly, in a back end deal.

It’s annoying seeing these creative people talking out of both sides of their mouths about what WarnerMedia is doing to all creative people and the beloved, sacred cinematic experience. Credit some of them for using measured words and being very careful, but for those who are saying they got screwed somehow by not being notified where their movie was going to appear, my response is: “boo-hoo.”

There are people who literally can’t put food on the table. Why should any of these people care about how much money a movie isn’t going to make because it’s not playing with a theatrical window?

And yet there are articles like the one quoted below from Hollywood Reporter which seem to suggest moviegoers like us — people who prefer to see movies in theaters first — think these creative types just don’t want to get with the times.

It has nothing to do with being luddites. We’ll break this down after the somewhat maddening quote.

Filmmakers and stars understand that there’s a pandemic to consider and a digital shift in the works. They know that streaming day-and-date or going without a theatrical release altogether will be routine for many movies going forward; they know the exclusive, weeks-long theatrical window was unsustainable. “None of us are horse-and-buggy people,” says an exec involved in the battle. “We go across all platforms when everyone is in agreement and up-front about it. No one is angry at the streamers — it’s these guys.”

Warner Bros. Under Siege: “No One Is Angry at the Streamers — It’s These Guys” | Hollywood Reporter

Nobody is angry at streamers? Didn’t Christopher Tenet come out and call HBO Max the “worst streaming service”? Seems like he’s being at least a little elitist toward streaming services. Particularly HBO Max.

And he’s wrong, as I already pointed out (see: Christopher Nolan Thinks HBO Max is the “Worst Streaming Service” – He’s Wrong). HBO Max might not have as many subscribers as Disney+, but I tend to believe a year from now, like CEO Jason Killar is saying will leave us with a different streaming landscape comparatively. With Amazon Prime Video and Netflix already at or over 200 million subscribers, those wells are pretty full. Wouldn’t expect to see as much subscriber growth for them as HBO Max in 2021.

What will make HBO Max a “success” a year from now? 100 million subscribers? Doubling the current subscribers? Or do they need to be at least half what Amazon and Netflix have? That would be well over 100 million subscribers.

This is where I think they’re going to convert like nobody else. Think about this for a minute logically. No other streamer has as many paid subscribers using essentially a different version of their streaming service like HBO does. HBO Max just needs to get 75% of the HBO subscribers on HBO Max in 2021 as well as have good growth from new subscribers. I’m sure they are hoping for much better retention than this.

This is why I think people that are saying HBO Max is a bust are short-sighted. They seem to be discounting or forgetting that HBO is a brand that has been around since the 70s. That’s a long, long freaking time. Way longer than Amazon or Netflix. The problem with HBO is they’re having to rebrand themselves somewhat (too many prior versions of “HBO”). They’re having to convert existing customers on cable who like subscribing to HBO that hey, we’re more than HBO now. We’re HBO Max. In some cases (many? I don’t know) they can actually get quite a bit more content to see on HBO Max vs. HBO.

This is the message that WarnerMedia needs to get right in 2021. Can’t say for sure if they will be successful in doing this, but if they are, do not discount all these HBO cable subscribers.

In fact, I think two streaming services to watch for growth in 2021 are HBO Max and Paramount+ (rebranded and expanded CBS All Access). I’m not sure what Disney+ is going to do with Hulu, but they are planning on investing a lot of $$ into their streaming game. Can’t count out Disney. Then there’s Apple TV+ which could very much be a sleeping tiger. Will they jump into the game with more activity or just buy a few movies and originals here and there? The here and there plan will not compete with Netflix.

Guess we are more optimistic about HBO Max. Would definitely not count them out. What do you think? Will HBO Max be one of the top three at the end of 2021? Or will they be trailing Disney+ in subscribers and momentum?

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