As far as own goals in digital media go, Warner Bros. Discovery’s freshly launched “Max” is the unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Several days on, there remains something almost inspiringly stupid about launching a “new” streaming service in the midst of a writers strike largely centered on the studio’s unwillingness to give writers on streaming projects their proper due, only to do so in a way that boils all proper credits down to a single “Creators” category that blurs and obscures the line between so many creative jobs.
And, as it turns out, this creative misattribution wasn’t even a deeply petty and intentional burn, which we could at least respect, in a perverse sort of way. A new report from Deadline states that WBD executives didn’t even know they were about to step on this particular rake, because the Creators tab was apparently the product of harried IT folks who were faced with the daunting task of smooshing together Warner Bros. Discovery’s huge library of content—HBO, Discovery, and other Warner Bros. properties—into one service with insufficient guidance. Rather than parse all the writers, directors, producers, and more who made these shows, movies, stand-up specials, animated series, etc.—and facing the rush to get Max out the door—they opted for the catch-all “Creators” thing instead. WBD executives apparently didn’t find out about the issue until people started, rightly, yelling at them after Max launched earlier this week.
The crux of all this, of course, is the fact that, at least from a consumer-facing point of view, there really was no reason to rush any of this; nobody except WBD execs have been clamoring for the studio to slam HBO Max and Discovery+ together, and especially not in so shoddy or slapdash a manner. The idea that nobody at higher levels even apparently thought to ask how the service would be presenting the credits of the people who actually make the content they all profit from is just sort of icing on the fecal cake here.
The Deadline report suggests that untangling this giant pile of “creators” could take the service weeks, since it’s not just like they can push a button and sort everyone who worked on, say, Mad Men, or any of the hundreds of other shows and films affected by this, into their proper spots. When asked for comment, HBO apparently pointed reporters back to their “We’re trying to fix it, we swear, please stop yelling” comment from earlier this week, which does not, in fact, seem to have stopped the yelling at all.