WBD reportedly considering ‘Max’ as new brand for combined streamer

According to CNBC reporting, Warner Bros. Discovery is considering going with simply “Max” for when it combines and rebrands HBO Max and Discovery+.

Nothing has been finalized, and the name will likely go through rounds of trademark vetting and perhaps even consumer testing.

It appears that WBD may stylize the name in all caps — “MAX” — a common way for brands who use relatively common words or phrases to attempt to distinguish the mark from the generic word.

Other examples of this include NBC’s “Today” and the Fox network, who both type their names in all caps in most official uses, despite the fact that this style is often assumed to mean the word is also an acronym for something.

In the meantime, WBD is calling the streamer “Beam” internally in the so-called code name nomenclature. 

Execs hope to have the new streamer up and running in the spring of 2023, which gives them just a few months to finalize details. 

The company announced previously that it would both combine the two streamers and wanted to move away from using the Discovery or HBO branding in the new name as a way to emphasize that the service offers the broad array of content that both names are associated with.

The word “Max” is certainly a short, memorable name that also still has a link to HBO Max, which was the more popular of the two streamers. Like the HBO Max name, it also has the literal implication that the service offers the “maximum” amount of content — not just “plus” more content.

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Assuming all Discovery+ content transfers over to the new combined platform, it will be able to draw on that service’s extensive archive of reality and unscripted series that includes thousands of episodes of the famous “House Hunters” alone.

The name “Max,” however, also has the disadvantage of being a bit generic and it’s perhaps debatable if HBO Max has been around long enough for consumers to recognized that a service called just “Max” is associated with it.

HBO Max is notably one of the biggest names in streaming that does not use the “+” (“plus”) branding, especially among services that are linked with an existing brand and offer additional, original content.

Netflix doesn’t of course, but it also was launched as a DVD offering (it briefly planned to rebrand its DVD-by-mail service as “Qwikster”). It markets the mail service under DVD.com, though it’s set up as a sort of sub-brand of Netflix.

Amazon Prime Video is another example, though it too originally stemmed from the Prime branding that’s become a household name right alongside the word “Amazon.” Hulu, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, CBS News Streaming Network, NBC News Now and ABC News Live are other notable exceptions (though Hulu offers “Hulu + Live TV” that uses the word “plus” differently from a grammatical standpoint).

There are also other services, including Vix, Pluto TV, FreeVee and Fubo TV that shunned the plus branding. Britain’s ITV opted to used ITVX for its streaming service, noting the “X” looks like a plus-sign rotated 45-degrees.

Meanwhile, there’s Apple TV+, AMC+, Paramount+, ESPN+, We TV+, Discovery+, NFL+ and Telemundo’s Tplus (which opts to spell out the word).

Even some local stations have plus-branded offerings. The schema also appears in other premium content offerings and other types of services.

To some degree, the idea of tacking on “+” to the broader brand has become a go-to branding strategy for streamers, especially ones that are linked to a bigger media organization. It does sometimes cause issues because “+” has to be spelled out in certain cases, including domain names and social media handles.

At one point, Google used the name Google+ for its attempt at a social media networking service, but it had no connection with streaming.

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