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AT&T Adds 2.7 Million HBO Max Subscribers in Q1

By Rich Duprey - Apr 22, 2021 at 12:33PM

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It wasn't the most important number, but it was the one everyone was watching.

AT&T (T 1.67%) reported strong across-the-board results for the first quarter, but the number most people were looking at was how many subscribers to HBO Max the telecom and media giant added.

Fortunately, it boosted the total to 44.2 million, up 2.7 million sequentially, which helped boost subscription revenue 12.6% to $3.8 billion. But programming costs related to the streaming service caused segment EBITDA to contract almost 2% $2.1 billion.

Godzilla battling King Kong

Image source: Warner Bros.

The HBO numbers are a little deceiving since AT&T includes accounts that have access to HBO Max, such as previous subscribers to the legacy HBO service, but who haven't necessarily downloaded the app. For comparison, the 100 million subscribers Walt Disney (DIS 1.84%) recently reported having were those who had downloaded the Disney+ app. Having access to a service and actually activating it are two different things.

Still, having ported all those legacy subscribers to HBO Max, the growth numbers ought to be true increases, and management told analysts at last month's investor day presentation they expect to have as many as 150 million subscribers by 2025.

And because Warner Bros. will be simultaneously releasing its entire slate of films this year to HBO Max on the same day theaters get them, there's a good chance it could advance those numbers this year.

Godzilla vs. Kong was released on March 31 and has been dominating at the box office, generating $80.6 million so far for the studio, though there's no word on how many people may have signed up for HBO Max to watch  it.

While it's probably not as many as Disney saw for the most recent season of the Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian, with new offerings from The Conjuring, Suicide Squad, and The Matrix franchises coming out, as well as a Dune reboot, HBO Max may yet drive streaming subscriptions higher.

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