HBO Max has reached 44.2 million subscribers, based on figures measured at the end of March 2021. HBO Max apparently added an additional 2.7 million new subscribers by the end of the month, largely on the momentum of big new films debuting on the streaming service, including Zack Snyder's Justice League and Godzilla vs. Kong. "HBO Max continued to deliver strong subscriber and revenue growth in advance of our international and AVOD launches planned for June," AT&T CEO John Stankey told investors on a recent call. It's an impressive 1st quarter gain for the HBO Max, which ended 2020 with an estimated 41.5 million subscribers.
There is always the caveat that we don't truly know the finer details of the numbers that AT&T is reporting. The company has been lumping its HBO Max and HBO Subscribers together in a lot of reporting, which makes it somewhat murky to measure how many unique new subscribers the HBO Max streaming service has, and how many new subscribers it gains. There are also the worldwide figures for all WanerMedia platforms, which currently total 63.9 million.
That all said, WarnerMedia is making a nice profit off these ventures, as first-quarter revenue rose a reported 9.8% to $8.5 billion. Subscriptions, advertising, and content were the driving forces in generating that money, and it seems WarnerMedia made a savvy (if not bold) choice with its content strategy for 2021.
It was somewhat controversial when WarnerMedia announced that it would debut its big 2021 blockbusters on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters. The argument from the movie theater industry was that WarnerMedia was going to seriously cripple (if not kill) theaters trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that's proving not to be the case, so far. Godzilla vs. Kong's release sparked both a major surge in HBO Max subscriptions - as well as a much-needed resuscitative jolt to the theater industry.
So, it seems WarnerMedia is successfully threading the needle of carving out HBO Max's place in the streaming wars, without hurting the larger film industry. In the previous investors' call, AT&T projected that it will have between 67 - 70 million subscribers worldwide by the end of this year, compared to 61 million at the end of 2020. That puts the streaming service on the projected growth rate of 120 - 150 million HBO/HBO Max subscribers, worldwide, by 2025.
Netflix and Disney+ should definitely take notice.
Reporting by THR