WarnerMedia’s HBO used to market itself with the tagline “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” to signal that the premium cable channel, known for such hits as “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones,” was special. But the company’s forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max, faces a more complicated marketing challenge: It is neither TV nor HBO.
HBO Max and HBO are separate services—HBO Max will offer more programming, including shows from Warner Bros., TNT and TBS as well as HBO, and will likely cost more than HBO. But WarnerMedia executives decided that the new service’s name should include ‘HBO’ because it is the company’s strongest consumer brand. That decision followed an internal debate, as top HBO executives such as then-chief Richard Plepler raised concerns about the implications of using the HBO name, according to former and current employees.