HBO Max didn't expect to have this many subscribers for another two years

Andrew Tarantola
·Senior Editor
·1 min read

During its Q4 2020 earnings call on Tuesday, AT&T revealed that its streaming subsidiary HBO Max now boasts some 40 million paid monthly subscribers — a figure neither company anticipated the service would attain until at least 2023. HBO overall now boasts more than 60 million subscribers, according to AT&T.

It should be noted that the 40 million subscriber figure includes not just folks who pay for the standalone Max subscription but also people who have Max access either through their existing cable bundles or one of the numerous introductory deals that cellular carriers have been offering since the service’s launch last May. Only around 17 million of those are considered “activated” in that they either downloaded and used the Max mobile app or are actively paying for the service outside of bundling deals. For comparison, Disney+ topped 86 million subscribers in the year after its launch, though Disney did enjoy the advantages of both a lower subscription price and stronger brand identity.

“The release of Wonder Woman 1984 helped drive our domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers to more than 41 million, a full two years faster than our initial forecast,” AT&T CEO John Stankey claimed in a statement on Tuesday, but we all know the truth — it’s because HBO Max made the brilliant, nay inspired, decision to host all 5 seasons and 110 episodes of television’s perhaps greatest space opera, Babylon 5. Time to get bingeing.