The addition of advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) and the expansion to new countries in Europe is resulting in growth for HBO Max and HBO.
The number of global HBO Max and HBO subscribers reached 69.4 million at the end of the third quarter, increasing by 12.5 million year over year, AT&T reported Thursday (Oct. 21), according to a press release. Among them were 45.2 million domestic subscribers, 7.1 million more than during the same quarter the previous year.
Looking ahead, the company said it expects to reach the higher end of its end-of-year HBO Max/HBO global subscriber target of 70 million to 73 million subscribers.
“We’re already nearing the low end of our 2021 guidance for global HBO Max and HBO subscribers, despite our long-planned intent to no longer cede customer control through Amazon’s channels offering,” AT&T CEO, President and Director John Stankey said in an earnings call.
Gains in International and Ad-Supported Subscriptions
HBO Max left Amazon Prime during the quarter. During the call, it was noted that Disney and Netflix had also exited the Amazon wholesale platform.
However, the loss of subscribers from that move was more than offset by the gains of international and AVOD subscribers. For HBO Max, the company reported strong growth in Latin America; a launch of the service in Spain and the Nordics in October; and strong subscriber growth internationally and in AVOD.
Of the launch of AVOD, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said on the call, “We’ve been happy with the launch, which was in June of this year, so this is the first full quarter. We’re happy not just in terms of the absolute response, in terms of subscribers, but also because advertising helps lower the price and increase the value for an HBO Max subscription.”
The company said its fourth-quarter 2021 content slate is strong, with speakers highlighting new seasons of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the return of “Sex and the City,” and the premieres of “Dune,” “King Richard” and “The Matrix: Resurrections.”
“Given our upcoming content slate and expanding global footprint, we expect to end the year at the higher end of our year-end global subscriber target,” said AT&T Senior Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer Pascal Desroches on the call.
DIRECTV, WarnerMedia Deals Going as Planned
Elsewhere in the WarnerMedia segment, the company reported revenues were up 14.2% year over year, driven by strong direct-to-consumer (D2C) subscriber growth and content licensing. Third-quarter revenues were $8.4 billion.
Subscriptions revenues were $4 billion, up 14.7%, primarily reflecting growth of HBO Max. Content and other revenues were $3.1 billion, up 31.7%, driven by higher TV licensing and higher theatrical. Advertising revenues were $1.4 billion, down 12.4%, due to the timing of the NBA season in the year-ago quarter and lower political ad spending year over year.
“You may recall that the prior year third quarter included the restart of the NBA season and the playoffs, which returned to a more traditional schedule this year,” Desroches explained.
In other news, AT&T also gave updates on the DIRECTV transaction and the WarnerMedia deal. AT&T is spinning off WarnerMedia in a $43 billion merger deal with competitor Discovery in a move that will create a TV, film and streaming powerhouse.
“We’ve closed the DIRECTV transaction and continue to expect the WarnerMedia deal to close by mid-year 2022,” Stankey said on the call. “With these and other dispositions, we monetized or announced plans to monetize more than $55 billion of assets over the past year.”