HBO Max Gains Traction After ‘Wonder Woman’ Premiere, Roku Deal

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AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max saw a boost in subscribers last quarter after reaching a key distribution deal with Roku Inc. and carrying the premiere of “Wonder Woman 1984.”

About 17.2 million people had activated their HBO Max accounts at the end of the fourth quarter, AT&T said Wednesday. That’s up from 8.6 million at the end of the third quarter and 4.1 million after its first month.

In early December, AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey said that about 12.6 million subscribers had activated their HBO Max accounts.

But that was before HBO Max and Roku resolved a dispute that had prevented the app from being on Roku devices. The end of the standoff allowed HBO Max to potentially reach millions of new subscribers.

Read more: AT&T slides despite subscriber gains, with costs ahead

That was also before the superhero sequel “Wonder Woman 1984” premiered on Christmas Day on HBO Max on the same day as in theaters.

The unusual decision to start a movie off on a streaming service and in cinemas at once has sparked an uproar in Hollywood, because it upends how people in the industry get paid.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which operates HBO Max, plans to premiere several more films from its Warner Bros. studio on HBO Max this year because many theaters remain shut down during the pandemic. That could help HBO Max as it tries to accelerate its subscriber growth in a crowded streaming market.

AT&T has set a goal of hitting 50 million U.S. subscribers by 2025 and a total of between 75 million and 90 million subscribers globally by that year. HBO Max plans to expand outside the U.S. and offer a lower-cost version with advertising later this year.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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