Credit: Warner Bros.

HBO Max have cherry picked some of its big exclusives and showcased them in an impressive trailer. It includes Friends, Big Bang Theory, South Park, The Lego Movie and many more.

It’s an impressive lineup, but its pitch, “the characters, the moments, the worlds, together for the first time,” only reminds this streamer of what we had in the past.

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Choice leads to the dark side

In the future, if you want to watch Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, you’ll need HBO Max. If you want Harry Potter, it’ll be on NBC’s Peacock, and so forth. Before the majors came on board, everything was on Netflix — or likely to end up on the streaming giant at some point. It was one service to rule them all.

This division of content might make sense from a business perspective now, but this HBO Max exclusives trailer shows streaming’s future.

Choice will encourage consumers to stream illegally, because it saves on hassle and money. Services will then turn aggressively to free-to-stream ad models, but only those with exclusives likely will survive.

This is where we are now, and it’ll lead to many great shows because it’s a fight for attention. Over time, as competitors fall away, unable to sustain attention, streaming will have less competition. This means there will be less need to produce quantity and quality.

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No better than scheduled TV

The irony is that without competition, the surviving streaming services don’t need to worry about your attention, because you have nowhere to go. Their focus will be to make content that drives the most ad revenue, and this means broad appeal, sponsor-safe trash.

Hbo Max Exclusives Trailer
Credit: NBC

Just think about TV in the ’70s and ’80s. Imagine the exclusive trailers from each network. Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Miami Vice et al. Wouldn’t it be as impressive as the HBO Max exclusives trailer (to that era)? We still ended up with cheaply-made reality TV trash, and 15 minutes of ads per hour of content. This will be streaming’s future: scheduled TV over the internet.

It’s a bleak outlook, but this is what happened to scheduled TV over the decades. Revenue is dictated by ads, and the content with the broadest appeal earns more because it is seen by more. It’s simple logic.

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Our only hope is that other disruptive companies like Netflix (or even Netflix) can continue to push streaming. The idea is to keep it fresh and away from the same race to the bottom suffered in the past.