HBO Max is starting to look like a big albatross for WarnerMedia after reports that the hybrid release model (Warner Bros. films dropping on the same day in theaters and HBO Max) meant to boost subscriptions to the service has lost the company over a billion dollars (and counting) and the sluggish growth of HBO Max has been dismissed multiple times by both company representatives and defensive subscribers that have championed the platform’s library/original content.
Well, it looks like the subscriber count is indeed as bad we thought.
WarnerMedia (via The Playlist) has released official subscriber information from the last year, as their new streaming service, HBO Max, was launched one year ago today. Revealing in the official chart is that they only added 11.1 million subscribers since they launched the app (See info-graph image below) and are still mixing together HBO numbers with HBO Max numbers, despite lumping the two services together it’s not great growth and could explain the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger that was announced earlier in the month.
The total subscriber count is listed as being 44.2 million subscribers but as we imagined the bulk of these people have HBO subscriptions (around 3/4 of the total 44.2 million) prior to the launch. Making the growth look even worse.
Now, this doesn’t mean HBO Max can’t improve upon these numbers but it stands to reason that WarnerMedia/AT&T’s belief that the hybrid model would bring in a huge amount of subscribers has been nothing short of a disaster. It’s possible piracy played a big role here as HD copies of their shows and high-budgeted films are posted online almost as soon as they’re available on the service, one of the many risk factors to the hybrid release model for their feature films was removing the theatrical window that acts as a buffer to combat piracy.
There is some hope that the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger could place HBO Max in the hands of better management, but there are already industry rumblings the move was meant to make a sale of WarnerMedia easier in the future. Opening up the service to international markets should also help it’s growth.