WarnerMedia caused a stir in Hollywood when it said it would release its 2021 film slate simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. But it’s a decision that seemed to pay off.
HBO Max added 2.7 million subscribers in Q1, bringing its total subscriber base to 44.2 million, parent company AT&T reported during its first quarter earnings call on Thursday.
Growth came from new titles including “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” which premiered in theatres and on the platform at the same time.
“Retail customers,” or subscribers who signed up through distribution partners like Roku or Apple TV, accounted for 9.7 million HBO Max subscribers, up by 2.8 million over Q4. Wholesale subscribers, people signed up for the service directly, increased by 150,000 subs to 30.94 million.
HBO Max’s average revenue per user was $11.72. Direct-to-consumer subscription revenue overall at WarnerMedia clocked in at $1.8 billion, up 35% year over year.
“We continued to excel in growing customer relationships in our market focus areas of mobility, fiber and HBO Max,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in a statement. “HBO Max continued to deliver strong subscriber and revenue growth in advance of our international and AVOD launches planned for June.”
WarnerMedia has not yet announced a price point for HBO Max’s ad-supported tier, but the option will not include same-day movie premieres, which will only be available on its ad-free tier for $14.99 per month.
HBO Max will also expand into 60 international markets this year, including Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
HBO Max still lags behind Disney+, which surpassed 100 million subscribers in March just 16 months after its launch. Netflix reported a four million subscriber increase on Tuesday, bringing its total global count to 208 million — just missing analyst expectations and its 210 million subscriber goal.
WarnerMedia’s overall revenue was up 9.8% to $8.5 billion, thanks to HBO Max subscriber growth, advertising and content revenue. Ad revenue bounced back by 18.5% to 1.75 billion, as live sports, including the NCAA March Madness tournament, returned.
AT&T is also making progress in the advanced TV front. Xandr, WarnerMedia’s advanced TV platform, saw 75% growth in digital video spend and 235% growth in CTV spend on its platform year-over-year in Q1.