It’s not HBO Max — soon it’s just going to be Max.

Warner Bros. Discovery officially announced Max as the new name of its flagship streamer, lopping off the HBO part of the name as it mixes in a big bucket of new content from Discovery+ and other new original series.

The company announced the name change at a press event Wednesday, where it also revealed a slate of upcoming projects. The rebuilt Max (on the web at max.com) is set to launch first in the U.S. on May 23, featuring what the company promises will be an average of more than 40 new titles and TV show seasons every month.

“Max is the one to watch,” WBD CEO David Zaslav said on stage at the event, featuring thousands of shows and movies on the service for every member of the household.

SEE ALSO: Warner Bros. Discovery Unveils ‘Max’: Everything Revealed at Combined HBO Max-Discovery+ Streaming Presentation

According to the service’s website, Max will be available in three different versions. The first two plans align with the existing HBO Max pricing, and WBD said current HBO Max customers will not see their pricing change (for now) when the new service debuts. The third tier, “Max Ultimate,” expands to up to four streams and includes 4K content. The trio of options are:

  • Max Ad-Lite ($9.99/month or $99.99/year): Two concurrent streams, 1080p HD resolution, no offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
  • Max Ad Free ($15.99/month or $149.99/year): Two concurrent streams, 1080p HD, up to 30 offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
  • Max Ultimate Ad Free ($19.99/month or $199.99/year): Four concurrent streams, up to 4K Ultra HD resolution, 100 offline downloads, Dolby Atmos sound quality

Warner Bros. Discovery in January hiked the price of HBO Max without ads from $14.99 to $15.99 per month in the U.S., while the ad-supported plan stayed at $9.99/month.

The Max Ultimate tier will have an expanded catalog of content available in 4K UHD including from franchises such as “Game of Thrones,” “The Last of Us,” “Harry Potter,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy” and more. In addition, all Warner Bros. movies released this year and in the future will also be available in 4K UHD when they arrive on Max following their theatrical windows, the company announced.

Why did the company decide to drop HBO from the HBO Max name? JB Perrette, president and CEO of global streaming and games for Warner Bros. Discovery, explained the thinking behind the rebranding — while saying HBO will be preserved as a brand within the Max fold.

“We all love HBO, and it’s a brand that has been built over five decades” to stand for “edgy, groundbreaking entertainment for adults,” Perrette said. “But it’s not exactly where parents would most eagerly drop off their kids. And yet Warner Bros. Discovery has some of the best-known kids’ characters, animation and brands in the industry. Not surprisingly, the category has not met his true potential on HBO Max.”

SEE ALSO: What Max Launch Means for Existing HBO Max Customers

At the same time, “we also want to honor and embrace where we’ve come from,” Perrette added, calling it the “most iconic, trailblazing brand in entertainment. HBO is not TV. HBO is HBO. It needs to stay that way. Which is why we will privilege it in the product experience and also not push it to the breaking point by forcing it to take on the full breadth of this new content proposition.”

In a Q&A with reporters at the event, Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and Max, elaborated on the decision to drop HBO from the HBO Max name. “The same people who are concerned today about taking HBO out of the name, a lot of cases of [are] the same people who were outraged that HBO was put in the name in the first place that it was called HBO Max,” he said. “It was a lot of, ‘How was HBO going to be put next to “The Big Bang Theory”‘? So I understand and appreciate the passion that people feel for the HBO brand and protecting and believing. Nobody believes that more than me and my team. But as I said before, it’s a premium brand. It is not designed to take on everything in library or in the streaming service.”

Even before Discovery bought WarnerMedia, Perrette, Bloys and Zaslav “heavily debated” the name change for the streaming service, according to Perrette. The execs did “look fairly briefly at various alternatives that could include Warner or include WB or could include the [HBO] brand,” Perrette said. “And we just felt like, that was sort of not necessary. We had Max, which was short, tight. Says something universal. Yes, the risk was ultimately that it’s sort of maybe less ownable because it’s a common word. But the flip side is that also made it very approachable and very easy. And when frankly, we found ourselves talking about the service, the shorthand was always ‘Max.’ We never said even ‘HBO’; we would just say, ‘It’s on Max.'”

Perrette said the newly rebuilt Max platform will be easier to use — with simplified navigation — and will have more personalization features than HBO Max. Max will feature a more prominent experience for kids, with a new default kids’ profile for new subscribers along with accompanying parental controls. Max also will feature a new video-playback experience to deliver “smooth and cinematic video” to users, according to WBD.

The HBO Max name was announced in July 2019, back when WarnerMedia was part of AT&T. The idea at the time: The direct-to-consumer streaming service, which debuted in May 2020, included everything on HBO — the company’s gold-standard premium cable network — plus a whole lot more stuff, including original series and library titles. (Unlike many of its peers, WarnerMedia eschewed the “+” naming fad.)

With Max, WBD is aiming to signal that the streamer’s breadth of programming now is even broader, pulling in nonfiction favorites from the Discovery side of the house from brands including HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC and ID. While Max will incorporate a swath of new Discovery+ content, Discovery+ will continue as a standalone service (currently $6.99/month without ads and $4.99/month with ads). WBD appears to have made that decision so it wouldn’t face having to impose a significant price hike on current Discovery+ customers by forcing them to upgrade to the combined service.

The retirement of the HBO Max name comes after more than a decade of HBO digital brand extensions. In 2010, the premium network launched HBO Go, an authenticated streaming add-on for subscribers of its linear pay-TV packages. In 2015, then-parent company Time Warner introduced the standalone HBO Now streaming service. Both HBO Go and HBO Now were phased out in 2020 with the launch of HBO Max.

With the name change to Max, Warner Bros. Discovery acquired rights to the domain name “max.com” earlier this year. Previously, it was registered to and used by Max International, a nutritional supplement products company. WBD had been kicking around the Max name change since last year.

“One of the tactical things is early on when the [Discovery-WarnerMedia] deal closed, we pretty quickly found out that… we had a path to get the max.com URL, which is obviously important,” Perrette told reporters. “And we did all the legal checks, which we felt comfortable we could navigate and there was no issue that would block us from doing that.”

Warner Bros. Discovery has not broken out HBO Max subscriber numbers after Discovery closed the WarnerMedia acquisition in April 2022. The media company said it ended 2022 with 96.1 million streaming customers worldwide, inclusive of HBO Max, Discovery+ and other services. WBD execs have said that by 2025, they expect the company to have 130 million global streaming subscribers and that its direct-to-consumer businesses will generate $1 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

Michael Schneider contributed to this report.

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