HBO Max and HBO picked up 3 million subscribers in the same quarter that Netflix lost 200,000 of them for the first time in years, Variety reported. The streaming/cable service reported earnings under former parent AT&T for the last time, as it's set to become part of the new Warner Bros. Discovery media conglomerate.
The lion's share of new HBO/HBO Max subs were in the US (1.8 mllion), and the services now count 48.6 million subscribers domestically and 76.8 million worldwide. That's up 12.8 million over last year, showing solid growth. (HBO Max costs $15 per month ad-free or $10 with ads, and HBO on cable is $15 per month.)
However, it was still a drag on parent AT&T (for the last time). WarnerMedia revenue was down 32.7 percent over last year to $1.3 billion due to investments in HBO Max and the failed launch of CNN+.
That's essentially why AT&T decided to divest WarnerMedia and focus strictly on its core telecom business. To wit, the company announced its largest gain in post-paid phone net additions in more than a decade. Excluding WarnerMedia and other divested businesses, AT&T revenue was $29.7 billion, up 2.5 percent over the same quarter last year.
With WarnerMedia and Discovery divested, AT&T plans to invest any free cash in 5G and fiber deployments (it still has $169 billion in debt, despite the $43 billion dollar deal to sell WarnerMedia.) "AT&T has entered a new era," said CEO John Stankey in a prepared statement during the company's earnings call.