AT&T may not want HBO Max anymore, but the streaming platform is gaining customers.
HBO and HBO Max, home to genre horror series like “Game of Thrones” and “The Sopranos” and Hollywood blockbusters like “Wonder Woman 1984,” added 10.7 million customers over a year, with 2.8 million visitors in the three months ending in June, AT&T reported on Thursday. Those numbers include both HBO Max and the HBO TV channel.
The company has 67.5 million HBO and HBO Max subscribers, with 47 million in the United States. AT&T, which has reached an agreement to sell its media business, expects HBO and HBO Max to have between 70 million and 73 million customers by the end of the year, far exceeding previous projections.
Netflix, the most popular streaming service, has 209 million subscribers, with about 66 million in the United States. It gained customers in the second quarter, but growth slowed dramatically and lost 430,000 subscribers across the United States and Canada, a sign that cracks are starting to show in unity. longtime value of streamers.
Speaking about the broader streaming industry, Jason Kilar, chief executive officer of AT&T’s media division, WarnerMedia, said in an interview: “The only thing I can promise you is change. . There is no doubt that change is coming, and it is fitting because we live in a dynamic time. “
WarnerMedia, including CNN, the Warner Bros. television and film studios. and the Turner cable networks, soon to become the property of Discovery Inc., as the media companies continue to sabotage each other in an attempt to take over Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The deal, which is expected to close around the middle of next year, will create the second-largest media business in the United States, behind The Walt Disney Company and ahead of Netflix and NBCUniversal.
Mr. Kilar, who learned about the acquisition just weeks before it was announced, could lose his job once the deal closes.
Both companies are prohibited from working together until the merger is approved by government regulators, including the implementation of any labor arrangements. However, such deals often involve tacit agreements about leadership. Mr. Kilar said he met David Zaslav, the head of Discovery, but he did not talk about the subject of his work.
“David and I have known each other for a long time,” he said, “and I think it’s fair to say that we both have mutual respect.”
Mr. Kilar, who took over the company 15 months ago, said he has no plans to leave the company.
“Next year there will be a time when I think about this topic,” he continued. “But I certainly don’t intend to do that until 2022.”
Mr. Kilar, who served as the founding executive of Hulu, is considered one of the celebrities in Hollywood. In 2011, he expanded the industry with a now-famous manifesto about the future of entertainment, which, for many, was a scathing criticism of Hulu’s corporate ownership.
The post showed that traditional TVs run too many ads. Mr. Kilar also blew up the cable, predicting that viewers would eventually drop expensive packages.
After Mr. Kilar joined WarnerMedia, he quickly shuffled the executive ranks and cut costs in an effort to streamline the business.
Then he angered Hollywood (again) by breaking with tradition and releasing Warner Bros.’s entire 2021 line-up. on HBO Max on the same day it is scheduled to hit theaters. The move would have cost some of Hollywood’s biggest players in profits – commissions earned by top producers and stars based on box office receipts – but the company quickly struck deals. agreement to ensure they will be paid.
Unlike Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max and other streaming entrants have stale agreements with cable distributors and Hollywood studios that preclude a fuller approach to doing business. Movies and TV shows instantly available online.
For Mr. Kilar, the move is not to offend Hollywood, but is part of a larger strategy to get HBO Max’s attention.
It seems to have worked. The release of glasses specifically for the big screen like “Godzilla vs. Kong” on HBO Max has helped increase the service’s customer base.
Mr. Kilar plans to continue that strategy through 2022. Warner Bros. will release 10 movies exclusively for the streaming platform. And big-budget movies like “Batman,” a reimagining of the comic book character starring Robert Pattinson, will hit theaters for a relatively short 45 days before showing on HBO Max, according to Kilar.
“That’s very, very different from how the world operated in 2019,” he said. “Ultimately, I think as long as you think about it, change can be very good for not only the client but also the people we work with.”