The HBO Max error ‘cannot play title’ on Apple TV 4K has a workaround for now

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If you’re encountering abrupt “can’t play title” errors when streaming HBO Max content on your Apple TV 4K, you’re not alone. I ran into the problem last week and found that others are also to deal with.

The issue appears to be specific to Apple TV 4K devices (all generations) running tvOS 16.1 and is occurring on the latest HBO Max app version 52.50.1 (released November 16, 2022). For some, the problem is intermittent and can be dodged through simple troubleshooting steps such as force closing the app, logging out of the app, reinstalling or restarting the Apple TV.

Chris Willard, HBO’s Senior Vice President of Communications, tells us The edge they are “aware and working on a fix.” The company’s specialized support team followed up with my own ticket to say that the development team is actively investigating the issue and recommends looking for upcoming updates to help resolve it.

Troubleshooting didn’t work for me. HBO Max customer service was helpful in guiding me through those attempts, but eventually it had to be escalated. Shortly after, I received an email with a solution helped others rectify the situation – and it’s about turning off HDR.

The workaround is to disable HDR

Now I don’t have HDR support on my TV, but that’s only part of the solution provided. What you need to do is this: From the Apple TV home screen, go to Settings, then Video and audio. In this section, you need to Resize to SDR, set Match Content to Disable, disable Match Dynamic Range and also disable Match Frame Rate.

This didn’t work for me right away, but my problem went from consistent to intermittent the next day. For others with newer high-end TVs than me, losing Dolby Vision HDR would be a drag.

Customer support came up with another solution to try: change the resolution to 1080p or 720p. Thankfully I didn’t have to take that action as I’ve only had one of the errors since Monday. Hopefully, like me, you won’t be left out in the cold trying to watch a Thanksgiving classic in 4K.

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