AT&T added 2.7 million new prospects to HBO and HBO Max within the first quarter, a lift for the corporate’s new streaming effort in an more and more crowded discipline.
The corporate’s WarnerMedia division, which incorporates HBO, recorded $8.5 billion in income for the interval, a 9.8 p.c leap over final yr, when theater gross sales and promoting income plummeted throughout the pandemic. Led by the chief government Jason Kilar, WarnerMedia additionally contains the cable networks CNN and Turner and the Warner Bros. movie studios.
HBO is the cornerstone of AT&T’s media technique, and the corporate sees HBO Max as a method to maintain its cellular prospects from fleeing, providing the streaming platform at a reduction to its telephone subscribers.
In its report on the yr’s first quarter, AT&T stopped reporting the variety of lively HBO Max customers, obscuring how many individuals are literally tuned into the brand new streaming service.
Total, AT&T counted 44.1 million subscribers to HBO and HBO Max in the US as of the top of March, a acquire of two.7 million from the earlier quarter. Earlier than it stopped breaking out the HBO Max subscriptions, in December, it mentioned had a complete of 41.5 million subscribers, together with 17.1 million for the streaming service, 20 million for HBO on cable, and the remainder coming from accommodations or different offers.
It’s probably that HBO Max drove the acquire within the quarter, which is notable given how aggressive the streaming universe has develop into. HBO Max can be the most costly of the varied main streaming platforms, at $15 a month. Netflix, which reported earnings on Tuesday, stays the chief, with 67 million prospects within the U.S. and practically 208 million in complete.
Netflix’s dominance has began to wane, partly due to newer entrants like HBO Max and Disney+. Netflix added 4 million new subscribers within the quarter, with slightly greater than 400,000 within the U.S.
Netflix chalked up the comparatively sluggish progress to the manufacturing slowdown that got here when Hollywood studios largely stopped making new exhibits and movies throughout the pandemic. The corporate mentioned it anticipated a extra profitable second half of the yr, when returning favorites and extremely anticipated movies develop into accessible.
Within the case of HBO Max, the streamer probably acquired a lift from an unorthodox technique championed by Mr. Kilar: The sibling firm Warner Bros. plans to launch its whole lineup of 2021 movies on HBO Max on the identical day they’re scheduled to seem in theaters. The announcement rumbled all through Hollywood, angering brokers and filmmakers who stood to lose out on essential bonuses and commissions by short-circuiting the previous theatrical launch schedule.
Mr. Kilar has mentioned the corporate will probably return to a extra conventional distribution plan beginning subsequent yr. For the remainder of 2021, he’s relying on the movie slate — which included the current releases of “Zach Snyder’s Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” in addition to the Friday premiere of “Mortal Kombat” — to assist drive individuals to HBO Max.
The corporate additionally plans a world enlargement of HBO Max beginning this June, together with a lower-cost model of the service that may embody commercials. The corporate has about 19.7 million HBO prospects abroad that it hopes to transform into HBO Max subscribers.