HBO Max Subscribers Hit 73.8 Million Ahead of Discovery Deal
(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. booked growth in its key subscriber businesses, helping to deliver on a promise it made to investors to return to its core connectivity mission after abandoning a costly media strategy.
HBO and HBO Max subscribers reached about 73.8 million at the end of 2021, topping the high end of the company’s forecast, placing the service in the upper tier of streaming platforms vying for the world’s viewers. Hits including “The Sex Lives of College Girls” and a “Sex and the City” spinoff helped HBO Max add subscribers in the fourth quarter. In October, Dallas-based AT&T raised its forecast to as many as 73 million total subscribers by year end.
The company is in a race globally to catch up with streaming rivals Netflix and Disney+, which have more than 200 million and 100 million subscribers respectively. Last May, AT&T agreed to merge its WarnerMedia business, which includes HBO Max, with media giant Discovery Inc. to bulk up against those bigger competitors.
While that deal awaits regulatory approval, AT&T is enjoying a rebound in its stock price fueled in part by the growth in subscribers across streaming and wireless services. Since dropping to an almost 13-year low in mid-December, the shares have surged more than 17% in the past three weeks. The stock ended up 2.2% at $26.21 at the close in New York Wednesday.
In wireless, AT&T added 1.3 million monthly subscribers, exceeding the 1 million analysts had predicted. The free phone promotions last year helped the company add about 3.2 million wireless customers, the biggest growth surge in at least seven years. The company also added about 270,000 fiber customers in the fourth quarter for a total of 1 million for the year, according to a statement.
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