HBO Max Has More Than Four Million Subscribers One Month After Launch, AT&T Says

In the one month since it launched, HBO Max has signed up more than four million customers, according to AT&T.

The numbers pale in comparison to the 10 million that Disney+ hit within its first 24 hours (ratcheting up to 50 million in its first six months) and the 33.6 million customers Apple TV+ attracted within its first quarter. Though HBO Max at least has been able to do outdo Quibi, which reportedly wasn't even able to crack 1 million paying subscribers after its three month free trial. However, HBO Max is a different beast, and its numbers could grow depending on WarnerMedia's ongoing deals with Roku and Amazon, and the company's ability to transfer its more than 30 million HBO cable customers to HBO Max.

AT&T CEO John Stankey told analysts during the company's latest earnings call that HBO and HBO Max accumulated a combined 36.3 million subscribers by the end of June, The Verge reports. The company didn't immediately disclose the number of HBO Max subscribers, but Stankey continued that roughly three million retail customers, and an additional million activations through AT&T platforms (AKA bundled plans) brought the HBO Max subscriber count to four million.

The numbers don't look too impressive next to fellow new streaming platforms Disney+ and Apple TV+. Disney+ shattered streaming subscriber records with the 10 million customers it attracted in the first 24 hours when it launched in November 2019, passing 50 million subscribers in just the first five months. Apple TV+ was able to rack up 33.6 million customers in the U.S. alone by the end of 2019 following its November launch (thanks largely to a one-year-free offer), though its numbers have stagnated since. But all new streaming platforms look good compared to Quibi, which was only able to maintain roughly 72,000 of its first-wave users after its three-month trial ended. It's still too early to see how Peacock is doing.

But AT&T has hope that it can dramatically expand those HBO Max subscriber numbers. The company has more than 30 million cable customers and HBO Now subscribers that it plans to move over to HBO Max, though Stankey noted that getting people who are subscribed to HBO through traditional cable packages to sign up for HBO Max has been slow going.

The confusion over which providers allow HBO subscribers to move to HBO Max is likely a big obstacle. AT&T, Comcast, Altice USA, Cox Communications, National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), and Verizon have all struck deals with WarnerMedia allowing their customers with HBO to upgrade to HBO Max, but the uncertain rollout may have hurt HBO Max's subscriber count.

But the biggest obstacles that remain are the ongoing negotiations between WarnerMedia and both Roku and Amazon about getting HBO Max on their devices. Stankey noted in the call that "unfortunately Amazon has taken an approach of treating HBO Max and its customers differently than other services and their customers," but there's a little more to it than that. The Verge reports that WarnerMedia wants HBO Max to be its own individual app, but Amazon and Roku are insistent on keeping HBO Max in their growing Channels division. This prevents WarnerMedia from exerting control over the customer's app experience, and most notably, user data.

While WarnerMedia, Roku, and Amazon remain at this standstill, Stankey articulated plans for HBO Max to be scaled up as quickly as possible, with international expansion and increased access in the works. But while HBO Max has one of the most impressive libraries of the new streaming platforms (despite the upcoming departure of the Harry Potter films), it may have to look at its current issues before it looks into upscaling.