Just before the launch of HBO Max, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Robert Greenblatt spoke to Variety business editor and interim editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton at the NAB Show Executive Leadership Summit, in partnership with Variety Streaming Room.
During the discussion, Greenblatt ruminated on WarnerMedia’s goals for HBO Max to attract additional customers not already subscribed to HBO via cable package or streaming,
“HBO is a phenomenal product but there’s a ceiling to it, and it’s been at that ceiling for a few years as the rest of the world has gone much more aggressively to these larger streaming platforms,” he said. “So I think not only will we be able to bring all of the WarnerMedia assets together in this platform, but one of the benefits if we do it correctly, is HBO — the great HBO service which is now 50 years old — will be exposed to many many more people, some of whom probably think, ‘HBO is not for me.’”
In addition to an extensive catalog of wholly-owned and licensed content led by the entire HBO library, HBO Max has curated much of its content into branded portfolios facing front and center on the service’s user interface.
“We’re just trying to find new ways for people to navigate through a [streaming] platform,” said Greenblatt. “I think we’re all frustrated to some degree with the volume of these platforms, and you can scroll this way, that way, up and down, and be frustrated at not finding something unless you search for it. And we’re trying to do some things organizationally which I think will make a difference.”
For example, there will be carousels of “Friends” episodes grouped by “certain funny and interesting sort of themes,” he said.
Given the chokehold Netflix has had over the streaming market, WarnerMedia fully intends to commit to ensuring HBO Max gains status as highest-quality streaming service offered to consumers.
“Anything you bring [to] the market in this space is high stakes,” explained Greenblatt. “I mean, we just saw Disney transform their entire company to bring [Disney] Plus to market and what a stunning success that is. So, yes, the stakes are really high. And we knew that HBO being fundamental to the platform was gonna keep the stakes really high for us as well. And yet, we also knew that that brand means something to the audience, not only here domestically, but around the world. And we felt that we wanted to assign ourselves the task of any of the programming that we add to this platform alongside the HBO service has got to be at that kind of quality level.”
For more information on the NAB Show Executive Leadership Summit, please visit www.nabshow.com/els.