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The streaming wars are definitely upon us, and it’s brutal out there. On Tuesday, HBO launched “Recommended by Humans,” the company’s newest marketing site and a not-so-subtle dunk on Netflix’s algorithm-driven features.
“Real recommendations from real people,” the site’s description boasts.
There you’ll find human testimonials of roughly 50 of HBO’s shows and movies paired alongside trailers and samples to watch for free. The sample covers the first episode of the TV shows and multi-part documentaries, which is possibly enough to get you hooked on some of the company’s heavy hitters, like The Wire, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, or the recently released Gen-Z drama Euphoria. Yes, the same one that Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly adores watching. A few full-length documentaries also appear to be offered in their entirety, such as Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (which currently has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes).
HBO makes it clear that these testimonials weren’t free in a message on the site’s landing page: “We paid them for their time because we’re not monsters.” Though its cute wording makes this less clear, that means people were paid to hype up HBO’s programming–so take their “fan” credentials with a grain of salt.
While HBO has launched marketing campaigns that offered free peeks at its content in the past, this is the first one to include fan reviews, according to Variety. HBO said it plans to add more content to the site in the future and encouraged other fans to share their own recommendations with the hashtag #HumanReco.
HBO now seems to be up 2-0 in the streaming wars against Netflix. First, HBO announced its plans to snatch Friends from Netflix’s platform in 2020, now this.
Here’s the full list of content featured on Recommended by Humans, courtesy of Variety: A Black Lady Sketch Show, Animals., Ballers, Big Little Lies, Bored to Death, Carnivale, Chernobyl, Crashing, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Deadwood, Divorce, Eastbound & Down, Enlightened, Euphoria, Flight of the Conchords, Game of Thrones, Gentleman Jack, Girls, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Los Espookys, Mommy Dead and Dearest, My Brilliant Friend, Random Acts of Flyness, Sally4Ever, Sex and the City, Sharp Objects, Silicon Valley, Six Feet Under, Succession, The Comeback, The Deuce, The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst, The Larry Sanders Show, The Leftovers, The Night Of, The Normal Heart, The Sopranos, The Wire, The Young Pope, There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, True Blood, True Detective, Veep, Vice Principals, and Westworld.
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Alyse Stanley is a video game and culture reporter based in Virginia with words at Polygon and USGamer. When she’s not writing about memes, she edits Unwinnable’s monthly magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @pithyalyse.