HBO Max Seeks to Bring Younger Audience into its House of Horrors

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BRAZIL - 2021/02/12: In this photo illustration the HBO Max logo seen displayed on a smartphone scre...
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Christopher Nolan was onto something when he called HBO Max “the worst streaming service” in 2020. His comments were personal, driven by Warner Bros.’ decision to put its slate of films on the platform on the same day as their theatrical release. He probably wasn’t talking about how the app has almost no functionality, but his comments ring true in that department as well.

As anyone who has ever tried to rewind an episode of Sex and the City knows, HBO Max is impossible to use. Despite the fact that it has arguably the best catalogue of any streamer, the UX is a nightmare.

Nevertheless, she’s persisting. Instead of working to create a usable app, the company announced today that it will be expanding to Snapchat. Inspired by the recent wave of group viewing options from companies like Amazon and Hulu, Snapchat users will get access to free episodes of certain HBO shows, along with the ability to watch with up to 63 of their closest friends.

If this doesn’t sound intuitive or like something you would want to do, it’s probably because you and I were born before the year 2000. Basically, when you open the app you can go to something called Snap Mini, which is a hub for third party apps within Snapchat. After entering your birthday, you’ll be shown an array of age-appropriate viewing options. No teenager has ever lied about their age on the internet before, so I’m sure this age gate will function like steel trap.

In addition to watching something on your own, you can send a link to your friends through the chat function of the app, inviting them to watch Game of Thrones with you. Once they accept, your video will be synced and you’ll all be watching the dragon show together, with the ability to chat with each other and share Bitmoji reactions.

It’s basically like streaming something on Discord or Twitch. Does that frame of reference work? Ok, sorry, you know how in When Harry Met Sally they watch Casablanca on the same channel while talking on a landline? It’s like that, but on your cell phone.

In the promotional imagery for the venture, an iPhone screen features advertising for teen-centric shows like Euphoria, Genera+ion, and the new, woke Gossip Girl. HBO Max is clearly trying to ensnare younger viewers (again, not you or I) into paying for a subscription instead of using their ex’s cousin’s password. Because what would make a 21-year-old want to subscribe to a barely functioning streaming service more than watching Zendaya tweak out with 40 people to whom you send selfies each and every day?

I understand that marketing and development are two different teams, but communication is the key to any good relationship. You have to clean your house before inviting people over, babes.