AT&T announced during its Q1 2021 earnings report on Wednesday that its WarnerMedia subsidiaries HBO and HBO Max gained 2.7 million subscribers during the quarter, which saw the streaming premieres of key films such as “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong” on the HBO Max platform.
The news bodes well for the future of HBO Max — which consumers were initially slow to adopt following its May 2020 launch — and the earnings report helped send AT&T’s stock move upwards 4 percent following the call. During the quarter, the company earned $43.9 billion in revenue, which exceeded analysts’ expectations of $42.7 billion, per Variety.
AT&T CEO John Stankey told investors that HBO Max’s ad-supported subscription tier and the platform’s international rollout will begin in June. The former could prove to be key for the streaming service, which is more expensive than every other mainstream streamer on the market. An HBO Max subscription costs consumers $14.99 per month, which is several dollars more than competitors such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. Streamers, such as NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’ Paramount+ are beginning to experiment with cheaper ad-supported models to attract customers. A specific release date and price point for the ad-supported version of HBO Max was not provided by AT&T executives.
As for HBO Max’s subscription numbers, AT&T did not specify how many of the 2.7 million subscriber additions were specifically for HBO vs. HBO Max, but it’s likely that the streaming premieres of tentpoles such as the aforementioned “Godzilla vs. Kong” helped draw users to the platform; such was likely the case with “Wonder Woman 1984,” which premiered in theaters and on HBO Max last December. AT&T said during its last earnings report that there were 17.2 million activated HBO Max subscriptions in Q4, partly due to the temporary release of “Wonder Woman 1984” on the platform, but it was unclear how many of those subscriptions are still active.
HBO Max will continue exclusively streaming Warner Bros.’ 2021 theatrical slate, a move that caused controversy and led to condemnation from filmmakers and theater chain operators. The service will stream upcoming films ranging from “The Suicide Squad” and “Mortal Kombat” to “Dune.”