October 22, 2020
HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s high-profile subscription streaming video platform, Oct. 22 reported 8.6 million subscriber activations in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30). The SVOD service had 4.1 million activations after its first month of service following the May 27 launch. Activations are classified as HBO pay-TV subscribers and non-subs who sign up separately for Max with a “valid payment” method.
Max and HBO totaled 38 million combined subs when factoring in existing HBO subs able to access Max (for free) via third-party pay-TV operators. They had 36.2 million combined subs on July 23, exceeding a year-end goal of 36 million. Domestic HBO and Max subscribers do not include customers that are part of a free trial.
Worldwide HBO/Max subs consist of domestic and international HBO subscribers and domestic Max subs and excludes Cinemax subs. AT&T management says Max consumer engagement is 60% higher than for SVOD predecessor HBO Now.
“We continue to grow and scale HBO Max, with total domestic HBO and Max subscribers … well ahead of our expectations for the full year,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in a statement. AT&T has spent $2 billion on the launch of Max.
While Stankey put a positive spin on subscriber growth, the activation figure underscores Max’s ongoing struggles to capture consumers — without distribution agreements with Roku and Amazon. To compare, Max’s new sub additions were only about twice that of Netflix’s sluggish Q3 additions, which ended the quarter with 195 million paid subs.