WBD’s Max Kids Content Strategy Will Be Key to Success

Warner Bros. Discovery’s newly christened streaming service “Max” launches Tuesday with a brand new mandate: to determine itself as a normal leisure platform for the entire household — youngsters included. 

As JB Perrette, WBD president and CEO of worldwide streaming and video games, defined throughout the brand new service’s grand unveiling in April, the HBO model focused adults with edgy fare. “It’s not exactly where parents would most eagerly drop off their kids,” he stated. “And yet Warner Bros. Discovery has some of the best-known kids characters, animation and brands in the industry. Not surprisingly, the category has not met its true potential on HBO Max.”

He’s not mistaken. Max is house to iconic WBD-owned properties like “Looney Tunes”; DC superheroes and Hanna-Barbera characters, together with Scooby-Doo; the corporate’s flagship youngsters cable channel Cartoon Network; and “Sesame Street,” which moved its first-run programming to HBO Max in 2020, in addition to a number of spinoffs of the traditional preschool program.

And but the service’s share of the children streaming viewers has trailed far behind Netflix and Disney+, in addition to much less ostensibly family-friendly companies like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. A survey by media company KidsKnowBest revealed final 12 months that solely 18% of fogeys with youngsters 16 and below stated their youngsters watched content material on HBO Max.

That share was even decrease amongst youngsters 2-11; HBO Max claimed no larger than 16% of any section of that viewers in KidsKnowBest’s survey.

Meanwhile, no youngsters present on HBO Max has ever cracked Nielsen’s streaming high 10 (both on the general chart or the “acquired” sequence chart), whereas “Bluey” on Disney+ and “CoComelon” on Netflix seem on the chart week after week — not even “Sesame Street,” with its lots of of obtainable episodes (even after round 200 had been faraway from HBO Max through the Great WBD Content Purge final 12 months).

This all stands in stark distinction to the recognition of WBD’s Cartoon Network amongst youngsters: In the identical KidsKnowBest survey, 48% of fogeys stated their youngsters watched the channel, together with practically 60% of fogeys of youngsters aged 8-11. Other kid-targeted linear networks apart from Cartoon have been in freefall for years as streaming has stolen market share, in accordance with a VIP+ scores evaluation earlier this 12 months.

In quick, as Perrette famous, youngsters’ content material has certainly not lived as much as its potential on HBO Max, and it’s frankly among the many service’s greatest failures that it hasn’t been capable of appreciably rival Disney+ as a go-to viewing vacation spot for households. So what’s the issue?

The title was a part of it, clearly. As we’ve lengthy argued, “HBO Max” was by no means the most effective branding for a platform that hoped to serve a a lot wider viewers than the standard HBO demographic.

But the issue runs deeper than that. As an L.A. Times article identified final month, HBO Max’s consumer interface didn’t put youngsters content material entrance and heart, with the service’s format normally doing extra to cover family-friendly programming than put it on the market.

Perrette informed the Times the redesigned Max interface will “make it much more pronounced — much more explicit and overt — that there’s great kids content here.”

But if WBD execs are sincere with themselves, the actual root right here is extra easy, a lot in order that pointing it out feels virtually churlish: To win extra of the children streaming viewers, Max must win extra of the streaming viewers, interval.

While HBO Max’s subscriber numbers have been respectable — WBD doesn’t escape subs for the service, however analyst estimates have put its home whole round 40 million, not too far behind Disney+ — the platform has struggled to safe a considerable share of viewing time.

In Nielsen’s month-to-month “The Gauge,” HBO Max often accounted for lower than 1.5% of whole U.S. TV viewing time for the given month, behind Disney+ (whereas no viewing-time powerhouse itself, normally nearer to 2%) and never far forward of NBCUniversal’s Peacock and FAST service Tubi.

As a would-be premium SVOD vacation spot, that was a big problem for HBO Max — and little question a serious purpose WBD has reinvented the service as an all-things-to-all-people normal leisure platform. Many features of this technique are questionable, to make certain, however pushing its acquainted kid-friendly properties is a key alternative for the rebranded Max to capitalize on its potential.

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