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HBO Max Uses Human Curation to Stand Out in a Sea of Auto-Suggested Streaming

HBO Max interface

In streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et cetera, the first thing you see when you open the interface is a suggestion for new shows or movies. These suggestions are tailored by the platform, hoping to show you something you’ll want to watch, based on the stuff you’ve watched before. It’s an entertainment equivalent of Google’s personalized search algorithm.

There’s something to be said for this—Netflix built a pretty big chunk of its business on automatically finding something its users would be interested in. But the algorithm-based approach to content consumption is wearing a bit thin, especially as streaming catalogs radically shift and these companies disproportionately recommend their own original content.

HBO Max, AT&T’s attempt to muscle into the crowded market, is taking a more nuanced attitude. The service is launching today with specific groups of movies and TV shows “recommended by humans,” according to an interview with The Verge. The curated lists are something like DJ playlists for video—not a new idea, but certainly the biggest corporate application of this approach.

Curated collections are chosen based on common themes. Logging into the service for this article, I found collections that are obvious, like all eight Harry Potter movies or an “Editor’s Picks” of HBO original series, plus more general collections like “Rom-Com favorites” (Crazy Rich Asians, Love Actually, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), HBO Max Book Club (adaptations like Lord of the Rings and Wizard of Oz), all of Studio Ghibli’s animated movies, and an “Edgy Animation” collection featuring Rick & Morty and anime Berserk. The interview with The Verge says HBO Max will have curated collections from celebrities, a la Spotify playlists, but I don’t see any at the moment.

HBO Max interface

Of course there are more general “buckets” of content, like the sections dedicated to DC, Adult Swim, and Sesame Workshop. And HBO Max hasn’t ruled out using conventional algorithm recommendation in the future. But for the moment, the service stands out as a more selective, curated experience, versus the deluge of calculated presentation on its competitors.

Source: The Verge

Michael Crider Michael Crider
Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read Full Bio »