HBO Max Exceeded New Subscriber Predictions In 2021

While Netflix still remains on top in the streaming wars, HBO Max, which launched in May of 2020, is becoming a contender in the never-ending battle for streamer supremacy. WarnerMedia and its parent company AT&T revealed today that HBO and HBO Max ended 2021 with a whopping 73.8 million global subscribers. This is just a pinch more than the projected 70-73 million target, and an impressive showing for the still very young service. The numbers include domestic and international HBO Max and HBO subscribers, but excludes free trials, and Cinemax subscribers. Meaning, people who snagged a free trial to catch the last of the Warner Bros. day-and-date releases like "The Matrix Resurrections" and "Dune" do not account in the total.

The accessibility of the Warner Bros. theatrical slate was definitely a selling point, but HBO Max is also home to some of the best original programming in the game. Returns from existing properties like the "Sex and the City" revival "And Just Like That," or "Succession" were hugely popular, as well as new fare like "The White Lotus." This was a perfect year for HBO Max to thrive, and the cold, hard numbers show that they made the most of the unprecedented times. HBO Max experienced their biggest growth during the fourth quarter of 2021, but WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar isn't hedging his bets on it. "This business is not about what you do in any one quarter, but what you do consistently," Kilar said (via Variety).

Making Up For Lost Subscribers

The fourth quarter growth is also in response to the hit WarnerMedia took in the third quarter after the deal HBO had made with Amazon to carry the premium channel through Amazon Prime had expired. The company lost an estimated 1.8 million customers in the process. Following the deal loss, subscriptions in Latin American markets exploded in popularity, responsible for an estimated 1.9 million new subscribers. The service also began its first wave of roll-out in European territories which will continue throughout the early part of 2022.

Another big change was the roll out of their advertising-supported service tier in June which boasts a smaller price tag than the standard options. ​​"We have seen very healthy adoption of that version of the service," WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar told The Hollywood Reporter. He continued:

"And it makes sense because when a customer is empowered with choice, where they can either have a higher-priced ad-free service or one that's more affordable made possible by the presence of thoughtfully executed advertising, I think that's a really good situation for customers. So we are seeing a lot of consumers choose the ad-supported option, and it's early days, it's only been about six months. But we are quite excited with the response that we have seen and very excited about where it's going to go in 2022."

HBO Max is currently available for $14.99 per month for ad-free streaming capabilities of $9.99 for ad-supported access. Yearly subscriptions are also available for a 16% discount.