Practically since the launch of HBO in Spain last October, which came with the change of the weak HBO Nordic app -incapable of competing with the much more sophisticated and with better playback quality of Netflix or Disney+-, there has been talk of the notable improvement that the platform has experienced in Spain. But nevertheless, a series of inexplicable problems on paper are tarnishing what is undoubtedly one of the best catalogs of the streaming platforms within our reach.
This last point is beyond doubt: in addition to the almost complete catalog of DC heroes and a good assortment of animation and classic HBO series, we have a good rate of releases and a recovery of Warner’s catalog fund. The result is a varied platform that, although it does not reach the excessive pace of releases of Netflix or the popular impact of the most striking releases of Disney +, it presents a powerful alternative.
But what are these problems? Where has the platform failed to provide a high quality platform to its clients? On one side there is the 4K issue: Although this was one of the great promises of HBO Max, from the beginning it has been missing beyond a specific premiere such as the original ‘Matrix’ trilogy. But there is another even more notorious and even extravagant lack, and it is the total chaos that reigns in the subtitling and dubbing of series and movies.
Poor quality subtitling… when it exists
The case of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ was widely publicized due to the titles of the episodes, clearly translated in an amateurish way or with an automatic application… in the best of cases. Interestingly, and despite having been highly commented the notorious error has not been corrected (the capture below these lines is from today). Which suggests, beyond a case of negligence on the part of the company, that the correction processes are slow, perhaps due to HBO’s own structure and that there is no centralized control to put an end to these types of situations. In December, HBO assured the Audiovisual Translation and Adaptation Association of Spain (ATRAE) that they were working on the correction, but so far no change has been seen.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, perhaps the most comical and notorious, but it expands through other movies and series on the platform. A personal case, but significant because of the inexplicability of the case: I wanted to see one of HBO Max’s back catalog movies, ‘The Witches’ Curse’ from 1990, the sinister family film based on the Roald Dahl classic with effects of Jim Henson. Only I was able to do it with English subtitles or dubbed into Spanish, because there were no Spanish subtitles.
A walk through other Warner classics throws us similar or even worse results: for example ‘The Addams Family’ and its sequel do not have subtitles of any kind (curiously, also starring Anjelica Huston) and ‘Magnolia’ does not have them in Spanish. It is fair to recognize that many other films from the platform’s catalog background (the ten or twelve that we have looked at) have, at least, two languages and subtitles in Spanish, but it is unusual for films with innumerable domestic editions such as those mentioned lack some minimums on HBO Max.
more strange is that this aspect is being neglected with those that are the flagships of the platform, the premiere series such as ‘Estación Once’, a stupendous apocalyptic science-fiction production that is arousing glowing praise… although certainly not because of how the platform is distributing it in Spain. It started without subtitles in Spanish and Warner apologized because “as a general rule, subtitles in Spanish appear 24 hours after its premiere.” But those subtitles have continued to not appear until well past that time.
Currently heThe series already has all the active subtitles and dubbing, but chapter 7 continues today dubbed only into Latin Spanish. There were similar problems with ‘El Pacificador’, without Spanish dubbing (although this error was corrected in a couple of days), or with ‘What we do in the shadows’, which has three episodes, 7, 8 and 9 of the third undubbed season. They are absolutely arbitrary failures and do not obey any logic, since episode 10 of this latest series is correctly dubbed and with subtitles. Other series such as ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ or ‘Gomorra’, among those that have been detected, have experienced similar problems.
a possible explanation
The official justification for HBO Max is brief and does not clarify too many things: “We have no more comments than those shared on networks from our official accounts. The team is constantly working to solve incidents and improve the service every day.” But in recent days another alternative explanation to the one fair credibility can be given as it is not an official explanation, but it is plausible.
HBO Max is currently managed by the “European parent company”, HBO Nordic. The copies are the ones they (the Nordics) have, many times coming from an HDTV broadcast, with the audio in Spanish added.
Come on, the masters from the US are not coming
– Antonio Casado (@timelapses) January 13, 2022
According to Twitter user Antonio Casado, HBO Max in Europe is still managed by HBO Nordic, which means that the masters of the series do not come from the United States, but are those that are available in the European matrix. They are broadcasts in HDTV quality to which the audio is changed, which would explain the compression problems that the series on the platform sometimes suffer from and that HBO Max does not finish solving.
Other problems would also be due to this decentralization, such as the limitation of the image to 25 frames per second or the square format that spoils the panorama of many films, and which is, in theory, HBO Nordic’s response to the complaints of some viewers displeased with the black bars. These are some details that this Twitter thread brings to the table, and that For lack of a better explanation, they could answer why at this point, HBO Max is introducing rabbits into its catalog that throw the viewer an image of a sloppy product.