AT&T CEO: Warner Bros. films key in getting HBO Max to 50M subs

AT&T’s radical plan to debut all of Warner Bros.’ 2021 films on HBO Max and in U.S. theaters simultaneously will play a major role in getting the service to its domestic subscriber goal.

AT&T CEO John Stankey, speaking today at a UBS investor conference, said his company decided after weighing its options that the hybrid release model made the most sense.

“I think it’s important that these new distribution platforms scale faster for fear of being left behind. The fact that we can get more market momentum faster to get to our goal of having over 50 million customers on the HBO Max platform domestically is important,” Stankey said.

He said that HBO Max is already in a position where it can scale its customer base quickly and still bring in new subscribers with average revenue per user (ARPU) at a meaningful level.

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“We’re choosing to start with that big embedded base that we have on HBO and ensure that it gets into a new platform of high engagement,” Stankey said, adding that 12.6 million HBO subscribers have now authenticated their HBO Max accounts, which he said it up another 4 million from where the company was at the end of the previous quarter.

“I feel good about the plays we’re running right now. I feel good about the data points that are occurring,” Stankey said.

In October, AT&T reported that total domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers exceeded 38 million while 8.6 million customers have activated HBO Max. That marked an increase over the 36.3 million HBO and HBO Max subscribers and 4.1 million HBO Max activations the company counted at the end of the second quarter.

Today, Stankey said that HBO Max is closing in on 40 million domestic subscribers. He also said the over the past 30 days, the numbers of hours of engagement on HBO Max has increased about 36% thanks to new content like “The Undoing” and “The Flight Attendant.”