HBO and HBO Max Add 2.8 Million Combined Q2 Subs

AT&T July 22 announced that its WarnerMedia subscription streaming video service, HBO Max, and HBO pay-TV channel added 2.8 million combined subscribers in the second quarter (ended June 30).

The platforms ended the period with 47 million combined subs, a gain of 10.7 million subs over the past year, and 67.5 million globally, up 12 million.

WarnerMedia ended the quarter with more than 12 million standalone HBO Max subscribers in the United States and 31.5 million transitioned subs from HBO pay-TV. HBO ended the quarter with 32,000 U.S. pay-TV subs and 3.5 million commercial subs — the former reflecting increased migration of subscribers from linear TV to streaming.

The company’s 20.5 million international Max and HBO subs consist of domestic and international, and exclude free trials, basic and Cinemax subscribers.

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AT&T now expects to generate upwards of 73 million global HBO Max/HBO subscribers by the end of this year. Max launched nationwide May 27, 2020.

Subscription revenue increased 21.3% to $4 billion, primarily reflecting the 38.5% growth of direct-to-consumer Max and HBO subscription revenue following the launch of Max in the year-ago quarter.

“HBO Max had another strong quarter and is ahead of plan to be a leading direct-to-consumer streaming platform, with both subscriber- and ad-supported choices,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in a statement.

HBO’s ‘The Nevers’ Arrives on Disc Oct. 5

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Nevers: Season 1 Part 1 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 5.

The two-disc sets include the first six episodes of the HBO sci-fi drama created by Joss Whedon about a gang of women in Victorian England who suddenly manifest unusual supernatural powers and find themselves on a mission that could change the world.

In 1896, London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event that gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. All who belong to this new underclass are in great danger, so it falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter them against the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.

The cast also includes Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, Amy Manson, Pip Torrens, Denis O’Hare, Zackary Momoh, Elizabeth Berrington, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Anna Devlin, Viola Prettejohn, Ella Smith, Nick Frost and Ben Chaplin.

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Extras include the featurettes “Introducing The Nevers,” “A New Age of Power,” “Villains of the Nevers,” the six-part “Creating the Nevers,” six character portraits, three “The Craft” videos about the creative team and the Blu-ray and DVD exclusive featurettes “A Touch of Power: The Themes Behind The Nevers” and “Accustomed to the Impossible: The Making of The Nevers.”

The second half of the first season is slated to air on HBO in 2022.

HBO’s ‘Mare of Easttown’ Heading to Disc Sept. 14

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown on DVD Sept. 14. A Blu-ray Disc edition will be available the same day from Warner Archive Collection. The show is available now for digital purchase.

The seven-part drama stars Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a respected small-town Pennsylvania detective investigating a local murder while also balancing her own personal life, which is rapidly falling apart around her.

The cast also includes Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Evan Peters, Guy Pearce, David Denman, Joe Tippett, Cailee Spaeny, John Douglas Thompson, Patrick Murney, James McArdle, Sosie Bacon, Neal Huff, Kate Arrington, Ruby Cruz, Eisa Davis, Enid Graham, Justin Hurtt-Dunkley, Izzy King, Mackenzie Lansing, Cameron Mann, Kiah McKirnan, Jack Mulhern, Anthony Norman, Drew Scheid and Madeleine Weinstein.

Extras include the featurettes “Invitation to the Set,” “Mare of Easttown: A Closer Look,” “Welcome to Easttown” and “Making Mare of Easttown.”

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Samba TV: ‘Friends’ Reunion Drew 2 Million U.S. Households Over Long Weekend

HBO Max’s much-anticipated “Friends” reunion attracted 2 million U.S. households from May 27-31, according to Smart-TV viewer tracking service Samba TV.

The audience skewed younger, over-indexing with viewers age 54 and below, according the Samba TV. Viewers also tended to be more affluent, while Asian (+13%) and white (+7%) viewers over-indexed.

In both New Hampshire and Wyoming, 24% of all households watched the reunion, according to Samba TV data. But viewership was bigger in the United Kingdom, where 2.5 million households watched the special (It aired on linear TV in the United Kingdom, but only on streaming in the United States.).

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By contrast, “The Mare of Easttown” finale drew 1.7 million U.S. households May 30-31 (that program aired on both HBO and HBO Max) while Cruella, on Disney+ Premier Access, drew 686,000 U.S. households May 28-31.

‘The Nevers’ Top Rising Show on Weekly TV Time Chart

HBO’s “The Nevers” was the top show on the rise on the TV Time chart for the week ended April 18.

The show is set in 1896 in a Victorian London rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event that gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.

Perennial binge favorite “Grey’s Anatomy” took the top spot on the binge chart.

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TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by almost 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended April 18 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC U.S.) — 2.29%
  2. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.95%
  3. “Attack on Titan” (NHK) — 1.94%
  4. “Modern Family” (ABC U.S.) — 1.88%
  5. “The 100” (The CW) — 1.31%
  6. “The Office” (U.S.) (NBC) — 1.19%
  7. “Who Killed Sara?” (Netflix) — 1.15%
  8. “Naruto Shippuden” (TV Tokyo) — 1.14%
  9. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.08%
  10. “The Circle” (U.S.) (Netflix) — 1.08%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended April 18 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “The Nevers” (HBO) — 99.9%
  2. “Take Care of Zizi” (Shahid UAE) — 99.1%
  3. “Why Are You Like This” (ABC Comed/Netflix) — 98.9%
  4. “The Substitute” (TF1) — 95.7%
  5. “The Choice” (Abu Dhabi TV) — 95.5%
  6. “The Circle” (U.S.) (Netflix) — 94.3%
  7. “Fast & Furious: Spy Racers” (Netflix) — 88.8%
  8. “Imperio” (Rede Globo) — 88%
  9. “Infinity Train” (HBO Max) — 86.9%
  10. “Younger” (TV Land) — 85.4%

‘Soul,’ ‘The Undoing,’ ‘Our Friend’ Among Top New Disc and Digital Releases March 23

Disney’s Soul, HBO’s The Undoing and Universal’s Our Friend top the slate of new releases available for home viewing March 23.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution will release the animated movie Soul on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and through digital retailers. Directed by Academy Award winner Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers and produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray, Soul tells the story of Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx), who lands the gig of his life at the best jazz club in town. But one misstep lands Joe in a fantastical place: The Great Before. There, he teams up with soul 22 (Tina Fey), and together they find the answers to some of life’s biggest questions.

The latest feature from Pixar Animation Studios was held back from its planned domestic theatrical release as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and instead was made available to subscribers of the Disney+ streaming service on Christmas for no additional charge. In limited release internationally it made $116 million at the global box office. It also won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature and is nominated for the Academy Award in the same category.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the six-episode HBO limited series The Undoing on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 23. Based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Undoing stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as a married couple whose lives are upended by a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations.

The drama Our Friend will be available for digital sellthrough March 23. The film tells the true story of the Teague family — journalist Matt (Casey Affleck), his wife Nicole (Dakota Johnson) and their two young daughters — and how their lives are upended by Nicole’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. As Matt’s responsibilities as a caretaker and parent become increasingly overwhelming, the couple’s best friend Dane Faucheux (Jason Segel) offers to come and help out. As Dane puts his life on hold to stay with his friends, the impact of this life-altering decision proves greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined. It arrives on DVD March 30 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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Universal’s News of the World arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 23. Tom Hanks stars as a former Army captain in the 1870s who moves from town to town sharing the news from the far reaches of the globe. In the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) taken in by the Kiowa people and raised as one of their own, and agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces. It was released for digital purchase March 9.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Breaking News in Yuba County on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 23. Directed by Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train, The Help), the film stars Allison Janney as a suburban housewife who becomes a local celebrity in Yuba County when she embarks on a city-wide search to find her missing husband. Along the way, she encounters her half-sister (Mila Kunis), a local news reporter desperate for a story, and also stumbles into a wannabe mobster (Awkwafina), a relentless local policewoman (Regina Hall), her husband’s deadbeat brother (Jimmi Simpson), who all set out to uncover the truth behind the disappearance.

Cinedigm March 23 will release the Super Bowl LV Champions highlight film on DVD and Blu-ray, presenting highlights from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Timed for Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max, Warner Archive releases a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — Ultimate Edition remastered to match the 4:3 aspect ratio of the Snyder Cut.

Paramount March 23 releases a Blu-ray collection of 10 Best Picture Oscar winners, including Wings (1927), My Fair Lady (1964), The Godfather (1972), Terms of Endearment (1983), Forrest Gump (1994), The English Patient (1996), Titanic (1997), American Beauty (1999), Gladiator (2000) and No Country for Old Men (2007).

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

WarnerMedia Nabs 30 Nominations for the 27th Annual Vision Awards

WarnerMedia March 16 announced it earned 30 nominations for the 27th Annual Vision Awards, presented by the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC), which honors inclusive programming mirroring the lives, spirit and contributions of people of color in their diverse viewing audiences.

WarnerMedia’s brands CNN, HBO Max, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Sports, and Warner Bros. Television, among others, were represented in 15 different categories. Both HBO and TBS dominated “Best Comedy Performance” scoring all the nominations within that category. This year’s Vision Award winners will be announced in April.

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WarnerMedia in September 2019 released its first-ever annual report looking at diversity, inclusion and belonging across both its corporate operations and the films, television series and digital content created by its various production businesses.

Vision Awards nominees include:

“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” (CNN)

Best Comedy Performance:

Jay Ellis: “Insecure” (HBO)
Issa Rae: “Insecure” (HBO)
Michaela Coel: “I May Destroy You” (HBO )
Tracy Morgan: “The Last O.G.” (TBS)
Yvonne Orji: “Insecure” (HBO)

Best Performance – Drama:
Jonathan Majors: Lovecraft Country (HBO | Warner Bros. Television)
Jurnee Smollett: Lovecraft Country (HBO | Warner Bros. Television)

Children’s:
“Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism” (CNN & Sesame Street) (CNN)
“We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest” (HBO)

Comedy:
“Betty” (HBO)
“I May Destroy You” (HBO)
“Insecure” (HBO)
“The Last O.G.” (TBS)

Digital Media – Short Form:
“African Voices: Miss Universe” (CNN)
“Blackface and Hollywood: A TCM Original Production” (Turner Classic Movies)

Documentary:
“First Ladies: Michelle Obama” (CNN)

Drama:
“All Rise” (Warner Bros. Television)
“Lovecraft Country” (HBO | Warner Bros. Television)

Foreign Language:
“Veneno” (HBO Max)

News/Informational:
“Seeing America with Megan Rapinoe” (HBO)

Original Movie or Special:
“Between the World and Me” (HBO)

Reality:
“We’re Here” (HBO)

Reality – Social Issues:
“United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Sports:
“Field of Dreams…Deferred” (Turner Sports)
“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (HBO)
“The Shop: Uninterrupted” (HBO)

Variety/Talk Show:
“HA Festival: The Art of Comedy” (HBO Max)
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion” (HBO Max)
“Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!” (HBO)

 

CEO Jason Kilar: HBO Max No. 2 Revenue SVOD Service in U.S.

Backed by an industry leading $14.99 monthly subscription fee, and growing subscriber base, HBO Max is the second-largest (after Netflix) revenue-generating SVOD service in the U.S., according to WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.

Speaking March 12 on the AT&T analyst day, Kilar said more Max subscribers were added in the final seven months of 2020 than linear service HBO added in the previous 10 years.

Kilar said management’s goal around Max from the start has been to reach a broader, younger and more engaged audience than HBO.

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“I’m happy to report, we’re seeing just that,” he said, adding that 43% of the platform audience is under the age of 35, while 50% of viewers are female. HBO typically skews more male viewers.

Since launching on May 27, 2020, Max and HBO have topped 41 million in combined subscribers — a tally WarnerMedia had projected wouldn’t occur until the end of 2022.

“We exceeded that milestone more than two years ahead of plan,” Kilar said. “The launch of Max has not only covered the decline in linear subscribers, it has actually driven material growth.”

Kilar said Max users are twice as “engaged” as HBO users in terms of daily viewing hours — a metric the executive hailed considering Max’s elevated subscription fee.

“Based on publicly available data and analysts’ estimates, we believe that we are already the No. 2 revenue-generating standalone subscription video-on-demand service in the U.S.,” he said.

Kilar said he expects Max revenue per subscriber to continue increase as retail subs comprise an increasing percentage of the overall sub base. Indeed, the executive said the company earns a 90% margin on each retail Max subscriber added in the U.S.

“The economics of HBO Max’s growth are compelling,” he said.

Kilar said WarnerMedia remains “encouraged” by its decision to release all 18 of Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2021 theatrical releases on Max (for 31 days) simultaneously in the U.S. market.

“Given the effects of COVID, we have been happy, proud even, to give consumers the choice to see our great stories in the home or in theaters in 2021,” he said, adding that theatrical releases are often the first content new Max subs stream.

“We have seen a reduction in [subscriber] churn, in part due to the motion picture strategy.”

AT&T: HBO Max/HBO Aims for Up to 150 million Subs by 2025; AVOD Service Coming in June

On AT&T’s March 12 investor day event, the telecom issued updated subscriber metrics for its HBO and HBO Max properties. The company, which operates WarnerMedia, parent to Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO and Turner, says it now expects between 120 million to 150 million HBO Max/HBO subscribers by 2025 — up from the 75 million to 90 million projected in October 2019.

Heady numbers considering Max generated just 4 million subscribers after launching on May 27, 2020 — a tally that doubled to 8.6 million last October. AT&T then combined Max subs with premium channel HBO to realize 41.5 million combined U.S. subscribers at the end of 2020, compared with 38 million at the end of September.

HBO Max international expansion and AVOD launch are slated for June. AT&T expects to launch Max in 60 markets outside the U.S. this year (39 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean in late June and 21 territories in Europe in the second half of 2021). Those markets do not include the U.K., Germany, Italy and Australia due to existing content distribution agreements with HBO. Also in June, the company expects to launch in the U.S. market an advertising-supported (AVOD) version of HBO Max.

“It’s going to be a very big year for HBO Max across the globe,” WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said on the March 12 AT&T investor day event. He said rollout of the AVOD version of Max  in June would help change the platform’s consumer dynamics. Max AVOD already has $81 million in upfront commitments from advertisers, according to the company.

“Ad-supported [VOD], when executed thoughtfully and elegantly, is a powerful way to lower prices for everyone,” Kilar said. “We’ll be doing just that in June, here in the U.S.”

Max is expected to double revenue to $15 billion in the next five years. “We expect to break even by 2025,” he said.

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Separately, AT&T, which ballooned its corporate debt past $170 billion with the acquisition of Time Warner in 2016, has been trying to lower its debt-to-earnings to more manageable level ever since. However, the company now expects to end 2021 with a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of about 3.0, reflecting an anticipated increase in net debt of about $6 billion to fund the C-band spectrum purchases.

During 2024, AT&T expects to reach a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of 2.5 times or lower. To achieve, the telecom expects to use all cash flows after total dividends to pay down debt and will continue to look for opportunities to monetize non-strategic assets. The company also does not plan to repurchase shares during this period.

Doc ‘Fake Famous’ About Social Media Influencers Debuting on HBO Max, HBO Feb. 2

The documentary Fake Famous, about social media influencers, will debut on HBO Max and HBO Feb. 2.

From first-time director and veteran journalist Nick Bilton, the film explores the industry of social media influencers through a social experiment. The film’s journey is driven by the casting of three people in Los Angeles who all have relatively small social followings and the attempt to grow them into famous influencers. By purchasing fake followers and an army of bots to “engage” with their social media, the newly made “influencers” discover both the wonders and costs of this unlikely, immersive lifestyle. Each of their stories illuminates the ephemeral world of online influence and the realities of a lifestyle based largely on fantasy.

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Bilton, a technology journalist, explores a fundamental question: What is fame and influence in the digital age? There are now hundreds of millions of people on social platforms who have such large followings that they are considered to be a new kind of celebrity. But are they really famous? Bilton and his team set out to explore what it all really means. Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, Fake Famous illuminates our obsession with the numbers of likes, followers and favorites we get, and how most of our online world is much more fabricated than we realize.

Joining Bilton in providing insights into today’s social media landscape are interviewees including New York Times technology reporter Taylor Lorenz; Liz Eswein of @newyorkcity; Bloomberg technology reporter Sarah Frier; Justine Bateman, author of “Fame: The Hijacking of Reality”; and others.