Earlier this week Netflix reported quarterly earnings results that showed its subscriber numbers dropping for the first time in a decade, but not every streamer is experiencing that kind of pullback. Even though AT&T has offloaded HBO and the rest of WarnerMedia to their new home with Discovery, it still had one more set of subscriber numbers to reveal with its own earnings report Thursday morning.
The numbers showed HBO added nearly 13 million subscribers last year across both traditional HBO and HBO Max, including growth of three million in the last quarter. Now both services combine for 76.8 million subscribers worldwide, which is still dwarfed by Netflix’s 221.64 million subscribers and even the most recent Disney Plus count of 129.8 million. As we noted in January, HBO Max is doing great... according to HBO Max.
At the end of the quarter, there were 76.8 million global HBO Max and HBO subscribers. Global HBO Max and HBO subscribers increased 12.8 million year over year and were up 3.0 million sequentially, primarily driven by international as well as domestic retail subscriber gains reflecting strength of the programming slate. At the end of the quarter, there were 48.6 million domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers versus 44.2 million in the year-ago quarter, up 4.4 million year over year.
We’ve come to the end of HBO Max’s strategy of day-and-date movie premieres that ran through the 2021 calendar year, but it still has a fairly strong library of content including new hits and options from the Warner Bros. catalog. Also, unlike Netflix, HBO still has a number of new territories where it’s expanding, so it could be a while before they run into the problem of not having any more new customers to find.
AT&T CEO John Stankey isn’t the boss of HBO anymore, but he did remark on password sharing, which Netflix identified as an issue stalling its growth. As Deadline quoted him from the investor call, Stanke said “We were thoughtful about how we built the product and that we gave customers enough flexibility but we don’t want to see rampant abuse.” For any more information about the future of HBO Max (and the sudden death of CNN Plus), we’ll wait until next week, when Warner Bros. Discovery holds its first earnings call.