HBO Max rebrand breaks sponsored button on TV remotes

Mike Wheatley

The HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services merged into a new, single app known as “Max” earlier this week. But besides rebranding, expanding its catalog of 4K content and increasing its prices, the new service has also “broken” the dedicated HBO Max button on some Google TV and Android TV remotes.


It is a somewhat embarrassing problem, but the fact the button no longer works has to do with the fact that, rather than rebrand the existing app, Max is actually an entirely new and separate app from HBO Max.

The old HBO Max app is being discontinued, and users are being encouraged to download the new Max app instead to keep on viewing HBO Max and Discovery+ content. The company explained that its base subscription prices will remain unchanged. However, it also introduced a new, premium plan with 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos that’s more expensive than before.

The good news is that subscribers are getting a bit more content. In addition to HBO, Warner Bros and DC studios, Max will also include content from the Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC and ID. Max will also continue to produce its original content, which will now be known as “Max Originals”.

Existing HBO Max subscribers will retain access to their current plan and features for at least six months following the launch of Max. However, if someone changes their plan or is a new subscriber, they’ll have to pay $20 per month or $200 per year to sign up to Max Ultimate, which provides the highest quality video and audio, with 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

HBO Max and Warner also expanded the amount of 4K content on Max, which now boasts more than 1,000 movies and TV episodes in higher resolution. Ultimate subscribers will also get other benefits, such as four simultaneous streams and support for more offline downloads on mobile devices. With the Ultimate Ad-Free tier, users can download up to 100 movies or episodes at once, the company explained. Additionally, all new Warner Bros movies launched this year and in future will be available in 4K HDR immediately after their theatrical release window ends, the company said.

Max is available now in the U.S., and will launch in Asia, Europe and Latin America early next year.


So far so good, but some viewers may be upset about the lack of a dedicated button to access the new service. It’s very common for streaming devices and TVs to include dedicated shortcut buttons to popular streaming services. Buttons for Netflix and YouTube, for example, are started on just about any kind of Android TV or Google TV device these days. Many also include a dedicated button for HBO Max, but alas, it no longer works with Max.

The reason for the button break is that it’s mapped specifically to open the HBO Max app, so by creating a replacement app instead of simply rebranding the existing app, it has become inoperable. Various users on Reddit were among the first to note the problem.

It’s not clear how easy it will be to fix the issue. That said, with some streaming providers reportedly paying up to $1 per remote to include a dedicated button, there is an incentive for the hardware makers to come up with a fix if it’s possible to do so via a software update.