HBO Max, which opened on May 27, reached 4.1 million users by the end of its first two months. The total number of users of HBO and HBO Max was 36.3 million.
WarnerMedia’s new digital platform, HBO Max, which is among Hollywood’s oldest and most powerful studios and has become financially stronger following its acquisition by AT&T, began broadcasting on May 27. In addition to all HBO content, many productions in WarnerMedia’s content library and HBO Max originals such as Love Life, the platform has launched in the US with a monthly subscription fee of $ 15. Because this figure is the same as HBO’s monthly fee, it was predicted that HBO users would quickly switch to HBO Max, which offers much more content for the same fee. But problems with the opening of HBO Max prevented this transition from happening as fast as expected.
First, because WarnerMedia failed to make the necessary deals, HBO Max was not added to the MVPDs commonly used in America such as Roku and Amazon Fire. (In America, many users reach cable channels such as HBO and digital platforms such as HBO Max and Hulu via MVPDs that combine multiple channels, with Roku and Amazon Fire at the top of these MVPDs). This made it difficult for many users to switch to HBO Max even if they wanted to. According to data shared by Variety, the number of users who could not switch to HBO Max even though they wanted to because it reached HBO via MVPDs is 5.9 million.
HBO Max got off to a troubled start as MVPDs failed to get along
On the other hand, the fact that HBO Now and HBO Go, as well as HBO, caused confusion among users. Many users had difficulty even understanding the difference between all these platforms. A troubled start for HBO Max was inevitable as WarnerMedia’s new digital platform was hit by disruptions in promoting and marketing, and the pandemic combined with fewer oriijnal productions being ready to launch than planned.
But despite this troubled start, AT&T and WarnerMedia seem pleased with the performance of their new digital platform in the early months. Assessing last quarter at a conference yesterday, AT & T CEO John Stankey said HBO Max, which has reached 4.1 million users since it opened, had made a “flawless start.”
AT&T, which aims to reach 50-55 million HBO Max users in America by 2025, said they are making sure to reach that goal. As of today, HBO and HBO Max have a total of 36.3 million users. That means a 5 per cent increase compared to the end of last year.
HBO Max original productions are among the most watched content
Users have shown interest in content on HBO Max, especially original productions, Stankey said, adding that the six original productions they have submitted so far are among the 25 most watched content on the platform. Noting that the number of original productions will increase to 21 by the end of August, Stankey said that the original productions bring new users along and that he expected the number of users to increase with the release of these productions.
Stankey announced that, although not at the level it was before the pandemic, from next month, WarnerMedia Productions will pick up speed so they can deliver new content on the digital platform in 2021. AT & T is set to spend $ 4 billion on the platform over the next three years.
The company has also taken significant steps to address the confusion by reducing the number of platforms using the HBO brand, while recently cancelling the HBO Go app, which also changed the name of HBO Now to HBO. So there are two platforms that use this name: HBO as the cable channel and its online application, and HBO Max, the digital platform that offers much more as content.
While AT&T painted an extremely positive picture for HBO Max at the conference yesterday, the ever-increasing competition in the digital platform space yesterday shows AT & T and WarnerMedia that a tough challenge awaits. Netflix, which has decisively maintained its lead in this field, has 193 million subscribers worldwide. Disney+, which started broadcasting in November of last year and has grown rapidly since, has reached 55 million subscribers. While Disney+ reached 26.5 million subscribers at the end of the first three months, the fact that HBO Max was able to attract only 4.1 million users at the end of the two months suggests we’re not facing as much of a positive picture as AT&T said.
Of course, in this case, the role of the pandemic is quite large. The most notable original productions, such as Raised by Wolves and the Flight Attendent, that HBO Max would present to its audience in the first place, had to be postponed due to the pandemic. With these series starting to run late, we will be able to see more clearly how rapidly the number of users increases. Because at the end of the day it’s the original productions that determine the fate of digital platforms. Although Studio Ghibli is home to films, HBO series, DC adaptations, friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, HBO Max needs to make significant work in the field of original content in order to be ambitious in this market. Exciting series such as Dune: the Sisterhood, Justice League Dark, Green Lantern, Station Eleven, Tokyo Vice, Overlook, Gossip Girl spin-offs, which are in different stages of the preparation process, show that HBO Max has made significant strides along this path.
AT & T plans to launch HBO Max next year in some countries other than America as well. A lower-paid version of HBO Max, one of the most expensive digital platforms on the market with a subscription fee of $ 15, including advertising, is also expected to be available to users next year.