HBO Max tops 40 million subscribers two years ahead of schedule

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HBO Max announces details and pricing.
Image: YouTube | HBO

Streaming services enjoyed massive success in 2020 as millions of people sought new ways to entertain themselves while staying at home. HBO Max is one of the newest names in the streaming industry. However, much like Disney+, it is off to a hot start.

HBO’s parent company, AT&T, announced on Wednesday that its flagship streaming service has amassed 40 million subscribers. That’s noteworthy considering that it didn’t plan to hit that number for another two years.

Breaking Down the Numbers

It’s arguable that HBO Max’s 40 million subscriber mark is less impressive than it appears, mainly due to the way AT&T counts subscribers.

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The Verge notes that the figure includes those who have access to HBO Max, perhaps through a cell carrier or cable company, regardless of whether they actually use it.

That puts things in perspective. Even so, the company claims that it has 17.2 million “activated” subscribers. To fall into this category, someone has to download the HBO Max app and sign up for a subscription (or claim one with a free promotion).

HBO Max has seen its subscriber numbers grow significantly since last quarter when it claimed 28.7 million in total and 8.6 million activated members.

Experts and AT&T alike attribute much of that growth to the decision to release blockbuster films on HBO Max at the same time as their theater debut. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most movie theaters are either closed or operating with limited capacity. Sending movies like “Wonder Woman 1984” directly to HBO Max gives fans a way to watch and simultaneously helps grow the platform.

AT&T CEO John Stankey specifically named the superhero film as a catalyst for the platform’s early growth. In the days to come, HBO Max will continue to capitalize on the popularity of movies arriving at the same time they do in theaters.

Blockbusters like “Dune,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Matrix 4,” and more will all debut on HBO Max this year. It will be interesting to see how these films affect the platform’s growth throughout 2021.

Facing the Competition

Despite HBO Max’s impressive growth so far, it still has a long way to go if it wants to get on the same level as Disney+ and Netflix. Disney saw its streaming platform top 86 million subscribers in under a year. Meanwhile, Netflix has over 200 million subscribers.

The streaming industry as a whole will have several new challenges to face in 2021 and beyond. While large cable providers were once the main competition, other streaming platforms may now cause problems. With so many services to choose from, consumers will need to be more selective.

Ultimately, this could be a good thing for consumers since it will force streaming platforms to stay competitive and release new content. Netflix, for instance, plans to release a new movie every week in 2021. Disney+ has a massive content lineup of its own scheduled to arrive this year. Keep an eye on what platforms like HBO Max do as they try to keep up.

Nonetheless, the platform’s early growth is impressive and serves as an encouraging sign for the future.

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