HBO Reports 2.7M New HBO Max Subscribers for Q1, But Holds Back Detailed Streaming Numbers
By Movieguide® Staff
HBO recorded a successful Q1 for its streaming service HBO Max, which added 2.7 million subscribers.
Although AT&T CEO John Stankey did not want to release exact numbers, he claims that the service performed better than anticipated. The new 2.7M subscriber rounds out the service’s total to 44.2 million.
Despite the theatrical success of GODZILLA VS. KONG, Stankey did not offer any specific numbers for its release on HBO Max.
“We’re not going to give you any more guide publicly than what we gave you at analysts’ day,” Stankey said. “I don’t want to get into a kind of every-five-weeks update of those numbers. I think we gave you a good sense of what’s happening. We’re well above two hours per day per account.”
“We clearly have a good reason for them to come in,” Stankey said, referencing HBO’s deal with Warner Bros. to release movies like WONDER WOMAN 1984 and GODZILLA VS. KONG in theaters and for streaming.
HBO Max, the nearly year-old service available at no extra cost to HBO subscribers, propelled the overall HBO number to 44.2 million subscribers. Average revenue per user was $11.72. Of the 44.2 million total subscribers, about 9.7 million were designated as retail, meaning customers who came in through distribution partners like Roku, Apple TV or dozens of others.
Debt continues to be a concern about AT&T among many investors, and the company has struggled to chip away at it since acquiring Time Warner for $85 billion in 2018. Net debt in the quarter rose to $169 billion from $148 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, largely due to payments related to a C-band spectrum auction.
The company estimates the debt load will be down to $154 billion by the end of the year, noting that it has $11 billion in cash on its books and 90% of the debt has a fixed interest rate. It expects to net $9 billion in proceeds in 2021 due to its spinoff of DirecTV and sale of 30% of it to private equity firm TPG and the sale of anime brand Crunchyroll. The company said it will “continue to evaluate asset monetization opportunities” into the future.
Movieguide® previously reported:
The movie took the top spot for revenue in the pandemic with a $48.1 million opening. The movie was also released on HBO Max. However, analysts are wary of viewing the day-to-date release strategy as a long-term solution.
“A year from now, I’d be surprised if anybody would do this. You can’t draw any real conclusions from GODZILLA VS. KONG in regards to HBO Max. These aren’t real conditions,” analyst Eric Wold of B. Riley Securities said.
“I still believe that in order to maximize revenue, you still need an exclusive theatrical window. The window might be shortened but you still need to start with that,” analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners added. “What we got was a victory for theatrical. It’s a nice win in a crappy environment.”