Warner Bros. Discovery Drops “HBO” from HBOMax to Rebrand as “Max” and Expand Streaming Offering


In a strategic move aimed at widening its streaming offerings and attracting new customers, Warner Bros. Discovery has officially announced the rebranding of HBOMax. Effective Tuesday, May 23rd, the streaming service will be known simply as “Max.” The decision to drop the iconic “HBO” from its name reflects the company’s intent to showcase a broader content library while maintaining the integrity of the HBO brand.

With 96.1 million subscribers across its HBO, HBOMax, and Discovery+ platforms as of February 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery is leveraging various marketing channels, including digital, social, out-of-home, radio, and linear TV, to promote the rebranding and boost brand awareness. The company has significantly increased its out-of-home budget to target locations such as airports, shopping malls, and electric vehicle charging stations. Additionally, Max advertisements will be featured in cinemas and weather apps, ensuring broad reach and visibility.

Seth Goren, Senior Vice President of Subscriber Growth and Media at Warner Bros. Discovery, emphasized the company’s commitment to meeting consumers where they are, even during holiday periods like Memorial Day. The rebranding campaign aims to attract new customers by highlighting the expanded streaming offering beyond HBO’s acclaimed content. By dropping “HBO” from the name, Warner Bros. Discovery aims to dispel the perception that the service is solely focused on HBO programming.

Vikki Neil, Executive Vice President of Global Brand and Creative at Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming, acknowledges the power of the HBO brand while expressing optimism that the rebranding will encourage viewers to explore the service’s diverse content selection. The goal is to entice users to discover new and exciting offerings beyond their expectations.

Although specific figures on ad spending or subscriber goals were not disclosed, Warner Bros. Discovery plans to utilize its own channels extensively for this campaign. Goren revealed that the campaign would be the largest owned and operated effort post-merger, ensuring a broad reach across linear networks and digital platforms, potentially reaching over 80 million people monthly.

The rebranding of HBOMax as Max comes at a time when Warner Bros. Discovery is investing heavily in advertising to increase brand awareness and attract new subscribers. While the Writers Guild of America strike poses a separate challenge for the industry, Warner Bros. Discovery affirms that this rebranding initiative has been in progress for months and is not directly affected by the strike from a consumer standpoint.

According to Eunice Shin, a partner at brand consultancy Prophet, dropping the HBO name may appear counterintuitive but is a logical step to expand the customer base and retain existing subscribers. The move allows Warner Bros. Discovery to incorporate non-HBO content from Discovery into the streaming service without compromising the prestige associated with the HBO brand.

In conclusion, Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to rebrand HBOMax as Max reflects a strategic move to broaden its streaming offerings and attract new customers. The company aims to leverage various marketing channels to increase brand awareness and promote the expanded content library available on Max. By dropping the HBO name, Warner Bros. Discovery hopes to capture a wider audience while maintaining the reputation of HBO’s premium content. The rebranding campaign marks the first phase of an ongoing effort, and the company remains committed to data-driven optimization and long-term success.