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Worldwide HBO, HBO Max subscriptions grow despite fall in US

WarnerMedia-owned HBO and SVoD service HBO Max saw subscriber growth in international markets in the third quarter, despite expected declines in the US.

John Stankey

Parent company AT&T on Wednesday said HBO and HBO Max added 1.9 million subscribers in Q3, bringing the global total to around 69.4 million. That’s an increase of 12.5 million subscribers from Q3 of last year.

That number was dented by a previously announced decision to remove the HBO subscription from Amazon Prime channels in the US, where HBO and HBO Max lost 1.8 million subscribers in Q3, with its US subscriber total falling to 45.2 million.

However, that 45.2 million total looks much healthier in a year-on-year context at 7.1 million higher than the 38 million US subscribers HBO and HBO Max had a year ago.

Those gains helped push WarnerMedia’s overall subscription revenue up 14.7% year-on-year to US$4bn in Q3. The growth is “primarily” a reflection of streamer HBO Max’s growth, said WarnerMedia, which does not report subscriber totals for HBO and HBO Max separately.

For WarnerMedia as a whole, Q3 revenue was up 14.2% to US$8.4bn compared to the year-ago quarter. The uptick was “driven by higher content and other revenues, including the partial recovery from prior-year impacts of the pandemic and higher subscription revenues, partially offset by lower advertising revenues,” said AT&T.

Advertising revenues were down 12.4% to $1.4bn, which AT&T attributed to the timing of the NBA season in the year-ago quarter and lower political ad spending year over year.

Elsewhere, AT&T CEO John Stankey said the proposed deal to spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery remains on course to close in the middle of 2022.

“The general progress on the deal is consistent with what we would have expected as we walked into it,” said Stankey during the Q3 investor call.

“We’re moving through the steps with the various regulatory agencies, both domestically in the US and outside the US. Those processes are moving along at the pace we would have expected and we don’t see any surprises around it.

“We feel really comfortable around the back and forth and what’s been produced, the timelines and the milestones we’ve hit around those things.”

AT&T’s Stankey and Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav have repeatedly said that they expect the transaction to close by mid-2022, at which point Zaslav will take the reins of the merged entity, Warner Bros Discovery.

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