Since releasing its earnings on Oct. 22, AT&T (NYSE:T) says its HBO Max video streaming service is seeing a huge uptick in subscribers. 

CEO John Stankey told the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference this morning the WarnerMedia streaming platform witnessed a 48% increase in subscriber activations in the last six weeks as HBO Max activations jumped to 12.6 million from 8.6 million at the end of the quarter.

He also said engagement had surged 36% in the past month.

HBO Max screen on TV and mobile devices

Image source: WarnerMedia.

Priming the pump

AT&T is looking to have between 75 million and 90 million subscribers globally by 2025, and Stankey says the streaming service is ahead of plan. That still puts it well behind Walt Disney, which has about 74 million subscribers for Disney+.

Even so, Disney had much more conservative growth projections for its streaming service originally, but quickly surpassed them in the first few months as the global pandemic and free trial subscriptions from Verizon Communications pushed subscription growth skyward.

It's already a very crowded market, and Discovery just announced it is launching its own service, Discovery+, in January, which is also getting a helping hand from Verizon.

AT&T, though, has had a slow start to HBO Max's launch with only 30% of regular HBO subscribers activating the streaming service, even though they can do so free of charge. Also, HBO Max is a pricey option compared to other services, charging $15 a month compared to Disney+ at $7 per month and Discovery+ at $5.

However, WarnerMedia has upped the ante by declaring it will release to HBO Max all of its new movies in 2021 at the same time they're released in theaters.

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