HBO Max is every bit in the thick of the ongoing streaming wars. However, according to its 2021 first quarter subscriber growth, there may be cause for concern.
As part of AT&T’s earnings call on Thursday, the parent company to WarnerMedia revealed that their flagship streaming service added just 2.7 million subscribers. Any growth can be seen as a boon considering how inundated the market is with entertainment options. Yet with HBO Max looking to establish a significant market share in relation to competitors Netflix and Disney Plus, the figure is modest, at best.
At the end of 2020, WarnerMedia upended the entire movie industry by announcing that it would release all of its films throughout 2021 into theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. As a result, flagship films including “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and current 2021 box office champ “Godzilla vs. Kong” can all be seen on the streaming service at no extra charge.
Given the respective overwhelming fan demand, Oscar nominations, and box office success of just those three films alone, one would assume HBO Max was due for a blowout quarter. Instead, just 2.7 million new subscribers is all the service can crow about.
To put that figure into perspective, Disney added 21.2 million new subscribers to Disney+ during the fourth quarter of 2020 (Disney won’t release their 2021 Q1 figures until May). The number is heavily skewed by the fact that Disney’s subscribers are at the global level while HBO Max for the time being is only domestic (Disney has not provided domestic versus global breakdowns). Yet in the no-holds-barred fight that is the realm of streaming, size matters, and HBO Max is increasingly being dwarfed by its fiercest competitors.