AT&T said Friday that it anticipates massive growth from its new HBO Max streaming service as it expands internationally and offers a cheaper, ad-free option.
HBO, whose HBO Max streaming service launched on May 27 of last year, is expected to grow its global subscriber base to between 120 million and 150 million for HBO Max and the HBO cable channel combined by the end of 2025. Roughly half of these subscribers will come from non-US markets.
That’s a big increase, considering that parent WarnerMedia said recently that HBO and HBO Max had a combined 41.5 million domestic subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2020.
WarnerMedia chief executive Jason Kilar reminded analysts tuning into AT&T’s virtual investor day Friday that in October 2019, the company set a goal of hitting 50 million US subscribers by 2025. In retrospect, that was a particularly lowball estimate, considering that premium cable channel HBO already had about 33 million subscribers ahead of HBO Max’s launch.
But now, Kilar said that he anticipates between 67 million and 70 million HBO Max subscribers worldwide by the end of 2021. AT&T had previously set a forecast of between 75 million and 90 million subscribers globally by 2025.
The exec attributed the growth to HBO’s expansion to about 60 markets outside the US this year and the June launch of a lower-cost, ad-supported version of the $14.99 a month app. Pricing for the ad-supported app was not revealed. However, Kilar said the ad-supported version already has $80 million un upfront advertising commitments.
With the upward revision, Kilar said the $6.8 billion in annual revenue derived from HBO and HBO Max in 2020, will likely balloon to around $15 billion by 2025.
AT&T’s new forecast comes. as Netflix surpassed 200 million global subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2020 and Disney+ logged over 100 million subscribers just 16 months after its launch.