HBO Max and HBO combined for 73.8 million global subscribers by the end of 2021, ahead of company projections for 70 million to 73 million.
That stat and a handful of others were delivered this morning by WarnerMedia parent AT&T ahead of an appearance by CFO Pascal Desroches at a Citibank investment conference.
HBO Max launched in May 2020 and initially got off to a very sluggish start before finding its footing. The streaming service, which can be accessed at no extra charge for paying HBO customers, started rolling out globally in the summer of 2021 and also introduced a lower-priced, ad-supported tier. After initial branding confusion given the existence of other HBO-branded streaming apps in the market, HBO Max landed distribution with Roku and a new setup with Amazon, giving it access to two major U.S. gateways.
Internationally, HBO Max is still years away from entering the key markets of the UK, Italy and Germany due to prior distribution deals with Sky. It is expected to make an international push once WarnerMedia merges with Discovery and separates from AT&T, pending the OK from regulators later this year.
The streaming service has benefited from day-and-date film releases from Warner Bros, particularly fourth-quarter releases of Dune and the fourth Matrix installment. Introduced as a pandemic measure, the release pattern is not expected to stay in effect, but it has helped onboard a number of new subscribers.
Along with the streaming numbers, AT&T said it had 3.2 million postpaid phone net adds, its highest total in more than a decade.
After moving mountains to enter the entertainment business in 2018 with the $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T announced last year it would spin off WarnerMedia. The company also wrapped a money-losing foray into pay-TV last year, spinning off DirecTV into a new entity backed by private equity firm TPG.