HBO Max and HBO together are expected to reach 120m to 150m subscribers by the end of 2025.
HBO Max closed 2021 with 46.8m domestic subscribers when combined with linear HBO, an annual gain of 5.3m over 2020, parent AT&T disclosed in its Q4 earnings report.
Globally, subscriber levels increased 13.1m last year to 73.8m by year-end, as the company had reported earlier this month. Aside from putting the company ahead of its internal forecasts, the growth was the biggest subscriber increase in a single year in HBO’s 50-year history, AT&T said. In that early-January report, the company had not provided a domestic-international breakdown for HBO and HBO Max, though it does provide that on a quarterly basis. Domestic revenue per subscriber was $11.15.
The parent company beat Wall Street estimates for Q4, with adjusted earnings of 78% share coming in two cents ahead of forecasts. Revenue reached $41bn, which was down 10% from $45.7bn in the prior-year period but ahead of estimates for $40.4bn.
At WarnerMedia, revenue increased 15% in the quarter to $9.9bn, with direct-to-consumer subscription revenue climbing 11.5%.
AT&T’s revenue was $41bn in the quarter ending December 31, while earnings per share totalled 78 cents. Both figures exceeded Wall Street analysts’ estimates.
AT&T cited the negative impact of divested businesses, mainly US video in the Q3 and Vrio in the Q4. The company spun off pay-TV operator DirecTV, which it had acquired in 2015, into a separate entity 30%-owned by private equity firm TPG.
At WarnerMedia, content and “other” revenue jumped 45% in the quarter to $4.4bn, which the company credited to higher TV licensing and theatrical box office. Advertising revenue slipped 13% to $1.6bn due to tough comparisons with the political frenzy of 2020 on CNN and other outlets.
Operating income at WarnerMedia fell 38% to $1.6bn, reflecting ongoing investments in HBO Max, among other expenses.
HBO remains behind the other leading Netflix challenger, Disney+, which was at 118m subscribers as of October 2021.