AT&T said that the number of activated subscriptions for the HBO Max streaming service doubled in the fourth quarter to 17.2 million compared to the third quarter, partly due to the launch of Wonder Woman 1984.
The number of local subscriptions for regular HBO and HBO Max reached 41.5 million, which the company said was two years ahead of initial forecasts and 34.6 million in the 2019 quarter. Prior to HBO Max’s debut in May 2020, AT&T said its five-year goal is to gain 50 million subscribers in the United States and between 75 million and 90 million worldwide.
While HBO Max costs $ 15 per month for direct retail subscribers, existing HBO subscribers are eligible to activate their subscriptions at no additional cost. AT&T initially struggled to stimulate these conversions, especially with competitors launching far cheaper streaming alternatives. Recently, the company decided to significantly increase the ante for streaming service (to the horror of many in Hollywood), putting the entire film for release on Warner Bros. in 2021
IMDb TV, Amazon’s free streaming service, is now available on Roku
HBO Max, which competes with other emerging services such as Disney +, Apple TV + and Peacock, took advantage in the fourth quarter of a distribution deal with Roku reached in December. A similar game, changing the distribution, was concluded with Amazon in November, finally opening access to the two dominant US streaming providers.
The streaming news highlighted the quarterly results, which exceeded Wall Street forecasts, although they fell from previous year’s levels as the telecommunications and media giant continued to cope with the effects of Covid-19.
Earnings per share reached 75 cents for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with 89 cents for the same period in 2019, with revenue of $ 45.7 billion down from $ 46.8 billion. Analysts had expected a profit of 73 cents and revenue of 44.6 billion dollars.
The mobility department strengthened its quarterly results, with equipment revenue in this unit rising 28% to $ 6.1 billion. AT&T said the profits were due to smartphone sales, a combination of more expensive subscription smartphones and higher sales of subscription-paid data devices. The proliferation of 5G services, as well as Apple’s new iPhones, helped boost quarterly results.
WarnerMedia’s revenue fell nearly 10 percent from a year ago to $ 8.6 billion. AT&T estimates that television and film revenues reached $ 1.6 billion in the quarter. Revenues at Warner Bros. alone consumed 21%.
Pay-TV subscriptions continued to decline, with 617,000 video customers lost during the quarter, although broadband growth has offset the decline in recent years. AT&T TV Now, the Internet-delivered TV package that launched in 2016 as DirecTV Now, has closed and AT&T is in talks to sell a controlling stake in DirecTV, which it acquired in 2015.
Video revenue fell 11 percent to $ 7.2 billion, which the company blames for a drop in premiums and
OTT subscribers partially offset by higher revenues from customer TV premiums and a series of campaign ads. In addition to the challenge of operating during Covid-19, the company said the quarterly revenue includes projected invoice credits for 2020, which will be provided to subscribers for lower delivery of regional sports network programming.