I was a little surprised to find a reviewer invitation for HBOmax in my unused WordPress mailbox. You’d think they’d be more careful about who they send those things to.
Anyway, here is my not unreasonably biased against Warner Brothers survey of their answer to DisneyPlus.
We will start with the biggest and simplest question; if I absolutely HAD to pick between Disney Plus and HBOmax, if I had no choice about getting one of them, which one would it be?
The answer is HBOmax. I’m as surprised by that answer as you are but there is no getting around it. The content is simply much larger and more varied. It’s a better value for the money.
The advantage that HBOmax has over Disney Plus is that HBO knows how to program content. The company has been in programming ((googling now) wow), since 1972. Knowing what to present to viewers counts for a lot. And I admit that I am interested to see how well they will do as a boutique programmer (i.e: A human decides) against Netflix which is very much data-driven in its programming.
As for the content itself. They have all of HBO’s content from about 2004 on. Before that, it can be spotty. They have Cast a Deadly Spell but NOT Tales From the Crypt. Although, now that I think of it, Tales has probably gotten politically problematic for the far Left Warner Brothers.
It also carries a big chunk of Warner Brothers back catalog, which is definitely where it scores big over Disney Plus. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is good but it’s no Casablanca. It also has a very extensive selection of Looney Tunes (356 of them which is actually better than the Golden Collection box set).
Not all of them of course.
DC however is rather poorly represented. If you want a binge on Batman the Animated Series, or it’s Superman counterpart or any of the Justice League animated series you ain’t gonna do it on HBOmax. You can also forget about the Nolan Batman movies, Christopher Reeve’s Superman, and really any of the DC classics. You do get the new Doom Patrol series, which isn’t bad but isn’t binge-worthy either unless you are really into Brendan Fraser’s voice.
One place that they score big over Disney Plus is, by actually having an anime collection, which is another place where Disney has missed the boat big time. It’s 2020 pretending that kids are more interested in Mickey Mouse than One Piece is dumb. HBOmax is also streaming the entire Studio Ghibli library and that is a huge miss for Mickey the Great and Terrible. They rate a ZERO for giving that up. And HBOmax is using the English soundtracks that Disney recorded for that collection when John Lassiter was their Chief Creative Officer.
Honestly, looking at that part of the service over leaves me wondering if losing Keven Meyer to Tik Tok was that big of a loss for Disney.
As for the mechanics. For the first few days, the quality of the streaming was TERRIBLE. It was pausing so much it was nearly unwatchable, although it is less of a problem now. Admittedly this is way better than Disney Plus did on its first day of service.
The weakest part of HBOmax is the search engine. It’s clunky and doesn’t get you what you want. For instance typing in Chuck Jones or Maurice Noble just gets you a random dump of Looney Tunes. You have to look up the exact title of the short if you want something specific.* It feels like early 2000s information technology. This is a built-in limiter on a company that is primarily old school entertainment.
However, HBOmax’s biggest stumbling block is Warner Brother’s corporate strategy of having multiple streaming services like Crunchy Roll and DCUniverse (which is where you will find Batman the Animated series) when the rest of the industry is clearly moving towards aggregation.
That’s it for my first impressions. I may do a more in-depth review of the service if you guys think it’s worth my making an overt recommendation one way or the other.
Okay, I’m done here.
*BTW Marc Antony and Kitten holds up.