AT&T announced today that its HBO Max streaming service saw explosive usage and engagement gains in the most recent quarter.
AT&T CEO John Stankey said during a keynote appearance at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference that HBO Max’s user base jumped from 8.6 million at the close of the third quarter to 12.6 million as of early December. And that total hours of engagement have risen by 36 percent in the past 30 days.
Those gains are almost certainly going to continue: The service previously revealed that it would exclusively stream Wonder Woman 1984 starting on Christmas Day, December 25, alongside a subdued theatrical release. And Warner Bros., the studio behind that movie, will bring all of its 2021 releases to HBO Max day and date with their theatrical releases in 2021.
That strategy, while controversial in the movie industry, is certainly the right move for consumers hunkered at home during a pandemic and is arguably the right move for the studios as well. “Snowplowing all theatrical content into late-2021 and early-2022 probably isn’t going to help anybody,” Starkey noted.
He added that HBO Max was thus well on its way to its stated goal of having 50 million subscribers in the U.S. and 75 million to 90 million globally by 2025. “We’re actually ahead of plan,” he said.
It’s worth pointing out that Disney+, a rival service from, well, Disney, has gotten off to an even faster start than HBO Max, due largely to its massive content library. That service reached almost 75 million subscribers in its first year after launching in November 2019. Granted, Disney+ also costs just one-third the monthly price of HBO Max, so one might argue that each HBO Max subscriber is much more valuable than each Disney+ subscriber.