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HBO Launches ‘Recommended by Humans’ Streaming Site in Dig at Netflix

Netflix has for years touted its algorithm-driven TV and movie recommendations. Now HBO is taking a subtle swipe at the streaming rival and other services that push computer-generated content suggestions with the launch of “Recommended by Humans.”

HBO’s new marketing site is stocked with paid fan testimonials for around 50 shows, movies and documentaries that lets users sample them for free. “[T]he best recommendations come from real people,” HBO said Tuesday in announcing the site, available at humanreco.hbo.com.

The site lets users scroll through a canvas on a desktop or mobile browser to watch 36 video testimonials and more than 150 Twitter recommendations from HBO fans. Featured titles range from recent series like “Game of Thrones,” “Succession,” and “Chernobyl” to older shows like “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

For the campaign, HBO issued a casting call for viewers “who were so excited about their favorite shows they were willing to go on camera to recommend them,” according to a rep. The participants were free to choose which program to recommend and what they wanted to say about it. On the site, the premium programmer says, “We paid them for their time because we’re not monsters.”

It’s the first HBO brand campaign to exclusively feature fans, developed by the programmer’s marketing team alongside agencies Engine and Resn. HBO is encouraging others to share their own recommendations on social media using the hashtag #HumanReco and says it will add more programs to “Recommended by Humans” in the future.

Each fan recommendation on the site is accompanied by the trailer — along with the series premiere episode or full film, available to stream for free. HBO has offered free sampling of select content in the past, but the new site is the first time it’s pairing that with testimonials.

Here’s the full list of programs available on the “Recommended by Humans” site: “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” “Animals.,” “Ballers,” “Big Little Lies,” “Bored to Death,” “Carnivale,” “Chernobyl,” “Crashing,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Deadwood,” “Divorce,” “Eastbound & Down,” “Enlightened,” “Euphoria,” “Flight of the Conchords,” “Game of Thrones,” “Gentleman Jack,” “Girls,” “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “Los Espookys,” “Mommy Dead and Dearest,” “My Brilliant Friend,” “Random Acts of Flyness,” “Sally4Ever,” “Sex and the City,” “Sharp Objects,” “Silicon Valley,” “Six Feet Under,” “Succession,” “The Comeback,” “The Deuce,” “The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “The Leftovers,” “The Night Of,” “The Normal Heart,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “The Young Pope,” “There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane,” “True Blood,” “True Detective,” “Veep,” “Vice Principals” and “Westworld.”

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