"As much as you can learn about any new venture on its first day, it already seems clear that HBO Max is, more than anything, gunning for Netflix’s crown," says Caroline Framke of her first day using HBO Max. "Netflix also started as a library before branching out into originals, which have now largely taken over; if HBO Max can beef up its originals, expand its international presence (it’s currently only available in the US), and maintain its sprawling back catalog, I can see a world where it mounts a more significant challenge to Netflix’s perpetual domination. Its emphasis on older content — whether Looney Tunes, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or a huge swath of Charlie Chaplin’s film career — certainly is a point in its favor contra Netflix, which has had an increasingly short memory for film and TV history." Her colleague Daniel D'Addario adds: "I do think not launching with a huge scripted original offering — which Love Life, which has its charms, is not — has the potential to habituate viewers into thinking of HBO Max as a catalog-first offering. What’s impressive about it on day one is just how many corners of the entertainment universe it draws upon rather than its collaborators making original content. That pretty much reverses the recent launch of Apple TV Plus, which began with a Jennifer Aniston comeback vehicle but no catalog at all. But Aniston on Friends may provide every bit as much value, if not more."
HBO Max's launch doesn't hold a candle to Disney+: "Comparatively, Disney+ showed up late last year with smart ideas about how to crash the streaming-subscription party," says Sam Machkovech. "The most brilliant is its first-impression divide into five major categories: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. Opening Disney+ feels like walking up to a theme park, seeing five enticing gates, and knowing they'll each have a ton of content behind them. (Of all the companies to get that right, this one makes sense.) HBO Max can't make up its mind about whether to hew to that archetype or to the massive-dump-of-content standard seen on the past decade of most other streaming services."
How HBO Max will take advantage of its human curation: “There’s so much great content out there that customers are kind of getting a little overwhelmed,” says Sarah Lyons, HBO Max's senior vice president of product experience. “It’s really hard for them to make a choice about what to watch. We felt like there was a real opportunity to do something a little different with regard to discovery.”