Ain’t that always the way: You’re looking over your vast collection of digital, streaming, and subscription-based services—don’t the dang things just pile up the second you take your eyes off ’em, huh?—and suddenly realize you’ve got too many gosh-dang HBOs. HBO Go, HBO Now, HBO Max: They all sound just as exciting as all get out, but who can remember which is which? Is Go the one where you need a cable subscription? Does Now upload stuff as it airs, or months after the fact? Where’s Arli$$? It’s both a pickle and a dilly, and we don’t use either of those nearly-words lightly.
Thus news today—per TV Line—that Warner Media is reshuffling and reconsolidating its various HBO online brands, a move that includes the soon-to-be-enacted dissolution of HBO Go. (That was the on-demand video service for people who were already subscribers to HBO-the-network; its library has largely been superseded by the new HBO Max, which also includes a bunch of non-HBO Warner Media content, because this will never not be deliberately confusing.) Meanwhile, HBO Now will be rebranded as just “HBO” (both as an app and a streaming site), and will continue being offered at the same $14.99 price point as HBO Max, except without all the extra Warner Bros. stuff, or the option to get the service for free through your existing cable package.
All of which doesn’t appear to have made this whole Ourobouros of content much less confusing, despite the shuttering of one entire service. As far as we can tell, the main reason to hold on to HBO Now—sorry, “HBO”, which shouldn’t be confused with the TV network known a “HBO”—is because Warner hasn’t worked out licensing deals yet to get HBO Max onto some streaming devices, most notably Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV. Of course, once you decide to block your ears, close your eyes, and just get HBO Max, you’ve still got to figure out if you’re going to get it for free. Really, it’s amazing how complicated the company has made this process, given that a mail-order DVD company seemed to perfectly solve it, like, literally a decade ago.