HBO Max Experiences Scattered “Can’t Play Title” Outages

HBO Max, the WarnerMedia streaming service that launched almost one year ago, is experiencing outages across its footprint this afternoon.

Subscribers in New York, LA and elsewhere reported being unable to play film or TV titles once they were logged into the streaming service. “Can’t play title,” a message explained to viewers on certain devices. “We’re having trouble playing this video. Please try again.”

A spokesman said the company is investigating and did not offer any initial comment. Official Twitter handle @HBOMaxHelp tweeted, “We’re aware some customers may be experiencing issues streaming #HBOMax and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

The outage comes at a pivotal moment for HBO Max. Barely 36 hours from now, the Friends reunion special, which was long touted as the marquee launch title before being waylaid by the pandemic, will debut. In the next two weeks, the gate will come up on a cheaper, ad-supported tier of its service, a move that WarnerMedia and parent AT&T say will significantly expand their horizons. As of March 31, HBO Max and traditional HBO together had 44.2 million subscribers, which is ahead of the company’s internal projections.

The ad-supported option, which will cost $10 a month compared with $15 for ad-free, was heavily touted last week during WarnerMedia’s upfront presentation to advertisers. Executives alluded to the “elegance” of the advertising experience, saying it will feature an average of only four minutes of ads per hour. The strategy is to offer fewer ads but emphasize their impact and targeting potential.

Another milestone will come next month when HBO Max expands beyond the U.S. for the first time. While it won’t reach territories like the UK and Germany for a few years due to existing distribution agreements, it will be in dozens of territories across Latin America and parts of Europe.

The rollout of HBO Max has been a roller coaster for WarnerMedia. After initial struggles during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, the outlet started to gain traction in late-2020, as shows like The Undoing and The Flight Attendant hit just as distribution deals with. It then got additional momentum from an aggressive move to put all 2021 Warner Bros films on the service at the same time they hit theaters.

Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia who championed the move, has been in corporate limbo in recent days. His role is uncertain in a merger plan with Discovery and AT&T that would spin WarnerMedia into a combined, separate entity controlled by Discovery. David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery, is slated to run the new company.

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