HBO Max now has 12.6 million “activated subscribers,” up from 8.6 million at the end of Q3, according to AT&T CEO John Stankey who spoke at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference today.
Stankey also discussed the decision to bring Warner Bros’ entire 2021 slate of movies straight to streaming on HBO Max. When the announcement was made this week, the streaming service called it a “unique, consumer-focused distribution model in which Warner Bros. will continue to exhibit the films theatrically worldwide, while adding an exclusive one month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent with the film’s domestic release.”
During today’s event, Stankey called it a “win-win-win” and said it would give customers more options.
Not everyone is calling the move a “win.” Movie producers and theaters have spoken out against the decision, along with Hollywood talent. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan called HBO Max “the worst streaming service” in a statement to Hollywood Reporter. Nolan went on to say “Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”
John Stankey today doubled down on the choice when questioned by moderator John Hodulik, a UBS analyst. We’re all participants in a market that serves customers. The longer-term impacts are going to be dictated by what consumers wish to do,” Stankey said.
Will the consumer-focused plan pay off for HBO Max? Stankey has commented that the service has a goal of reaching 50 million U.S. subscribers and 75 million to 90 million global subscribers by 2025. Stankey says they’re “ahead of plan” for reaching those numbers.