In the final yr, the variety of streaming platforms has actually gotten out of hand. There’s Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, CBS All Access (quickly to be Paramount Plus), and Peacock — and every of them has totally different pricing tiers. If you scored free trials for Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, like I did, you in all probability obtained to pattern a wholesome choice of them. Those trials, nevertheless, are beginning to wind down. Which means it’s time to determine what’s value retaining and what’s value ditching: with this many month-to-month payments, it is best to completely play favorites. I used to be stunned to be taught mine was HBO Max.
HBO Max isn’t significantly well-defined. (It’s HBO… and extra?) It has baffling holes in its catalog due to licensing agreements, which made its unique pitch of being a house for numerous “hubs” — like the DC Universe or Adult Swim — somewhat shaky. And it has a bizarre proclivity for making its buzziest originals reunion specials, like the just lately added The West Wing dwell learn and the forthcoming Friends reunion. It additionally has a ton of movies: you may go from Hammer horror to Studio Ghibli to Yojimbo to The Talented Mr. Ripley and again to 13 Going On 30, all in the identical day.
In the lead-up to HBO Max’s launch, there was some hand wringing about HBO Max’s lack of a model identification, largely stemming from the indisputable fact that HBO, as a premium community, has an uncommonly robust one. HBO is dwelling to status tv that wins Emmys by the armful and drives dialog, and it’s the uncommon community that makes reveals that really feel like they couldn’t exist anyplace else.
Streaming companies, nevertheless, are not networks. They want content material, and loads of it. It implies that HBO Max’s programming essentially can’t be as fastidiously thought of as HBO’s slate is. The concern, per behind-the-scenes experiences, was that HBO Max would dilute the model.
The factor is: a diluted HBO is precisely what I wished. I am keen on watching reveals like Deadwood or The Leftovers, however the expectations set by status TV additionally encourage me to make myself a prestigious viewer: status means pouring myself a scotch and carrying a smoking jacket as I dim the lights for some Serious Television. Trouble is, I don’t all the time really feel like doing that! Sometimes, I simply need to watch TV. And HBO Max does away with its sister community’s pretension. I can watch the animated sequence Primal, lastly binge The O.C. for the first time, or, sure, even watch Friends. And then if I’m feeling extra erudite, I can slide proper into Chernobyl.
The days of streaming as a less expensive various to cable are just about over. Streaming companies have now successfully recreated the identical tiered bundles of programming that cable packages beforehand supplied, with the payments to match. But there is a flexibility to streaming that also makes it preferable, one that allows you to hop from subscription to subscription, canceling and enrolling on a whim as you peruse one library till you’re uninterested in it after which transfer to the subsequent. It’s essential, then, to consistently re-appraise what you’re subscribed to and ensure it’s incomes its hold. And proper now? Few streaming platforms earn their $15 like HBO Max does for me — for now.