Fandom-esque | When streaming services die, HBO Max will be the last one standing

Fandom-esque is a biweekly blog about the fandoms of the pop culture sphere and their latest ongoings in TV, film and more.

By Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

It’s Sunday night, and you’re sobbing on your living room couch. As the months pass, the show you’re watching changes. In October, dragons grace your screen. In December, it’s Jennifer Coolidge riding a Vespa in Sicily. Today, it’s Pedro Pascal with a gruff and unfathomably attractive Texan accent fighting zombies.

You, like the rest of the world, are tuned in to HBO’s Sunday night 9 p.m. spot. Meanwhile, Netflix is flopping through its death throes in the corner.

Here’s the deal. Streaming services have been around for a while now. It might not seem like it, but Netflix has had a streaming component on its website since 2007. In 2013, they released “House of Cards,” the first Netflix-produced TV show.

As of February 2023, there are more than 200 streaming services available, if you count live TV subscriptions such as Sling or FuboTV — but Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Max are the ones that make the headlines.

Yet, it seems that streaming services like Netflix are gracing the more negative side of the news cycle lately than the positive. HBO, however, is hitting home run after home run with each of its shows.

Let’s start with HBO and why they’re succeeding. One, they’ve managed to scoop up the rights to franchises that have the potential to wring in a lot of cash through either the main show or the spin-offs. “Game of Thrones” — and subsequently “House of the Dragon” — is a great example.

“House of the Dragon” won best drama series at the Golden Globes in January. It was a rather shocking win, considering the show is in its first season and had only one other nomination this year for Emma D’Arcy, who plays Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen.

Yet, when examining the win further, I have to give credit to HBO for their “gamble.” It’s a rather universally shared opinion that “Game of Thrones” ended on a horrible note. Yet, when the show was at its peak, it was all that anyone could talk about. By giving George R.R. Martin more creative freedom in “House of the Dragon,” and adjusting based on the criticism they received from “Game of Thrones,” “House of the Dragon” looks like another cash cow for HBO to milk.

But that’s not the only show we’re talking about here, right? What about the Vespa? What about hot country-loving Joel? Well, here’s HBO’s second key to success — they make fantastic shows for their Sunday primetime spot, and they make sure they’re not all the same thing.

From more recent HBO hits like “The White Lotus,” “The Last of Us” and “Succession” to the classic shows that started the Sunday tradition like “The Sopranos,” “Sex in the City” and “Oz” — they cover a lot of ground.

“The Sopranos” and “The Last of Us” are not very comparable shows, either in cast, plot or setting, but they’re both written well, and HBO has spent a butt-load of money on marketing for them. In 2005, HBO even touted “Sunday… is HBO” as a slogan.

We live in a world where watching live TV is more a rarity than a commonality among millennials and Gen Z. A report from Horowitz Research highlights that eight in 10 of 13 to 24-year-olds exclusively stream TV content. Cable, for the younger generation, is a thing of the past.

And yet, so many people are sitting down at a specific time to watch one specific show? It feels like an anomaly.

I think that people are willing to sit down and watch “The Last of Us” or “Euphoria” or whatever new show HBO has on the docks, because of the high quality — whether that be critically or for simple entertainment value.

Netflix, as usual, is lacking on both of these fronts. The streaming service came under intense criticism recently when it announced that it would ban password sharing in 2023. Users would have to re-sign into their account every 30 days through their home internet router — which would leave college students, extended family members, soldiers abroad and more without access to their favorite shows and movies.

Netflix quickly backed out of that announcement, after they faced intense criticism online. They claim it was an error, meant for countries outside the US. I say they have a horrible poker face.

Very funny from the company that once tweeted “Love is sharing a password.”

They also seem rather keen on just getting rid of all the popular shows from their platform, even the ones they specifically produced. Netflix recently announced that it will remove “Arrested Development” from the platform in March, including the last two seasons that it produced itself.

Where can you watch “Arrested Development” after it’s gone? A great question, and one I don’t have an answer for. Guess Netflix is condoning pirating now.

In terms of content, there isn’t much that Netflix has going for it anymore, at least not anything I’ve been discussing recently with my friends. So when the streaming service bubble finally bursts, and the plethora of new options caves in on itself, I am of the firm belief that HBO — with its decades-long Sunday night formula — will endure and survive.