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HBO Max subscribers inch ahead to close out 2021

AT&T today announced its fourth-quarter earnings for 2021, and that means new numbers for HBO and HBO Max. Retail additions — that is folks who subscribe to HBO Max directly or through a third party like their cable or streaming service — increased slightly the final three months of the year for a total of 13.91 million. That’s up about 9% from the previous quarter.

It’s also the second straight quarter of significantly slower growth in the U.S. (AT&T reports domestic numbers and lumps the rest of the world together, along with the legacy HBO service.) While the latest results show 102% improvement year over year, it’s only a 15% increase over the second-quarter numbers.

HBO Max app icon on Apple TV.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

On the “wholesale” side of the equation — which is defined as “accounts that have access to HBO Max through a wholesale distributor (including wholesale subscribers that may not have signed in)” — things were nearly stable, with the 29.369 million subscriptions up 1.1% for the quarter, and down 4.6% year over year.

Worldwide, there are now some 73.8 million subscribers of HBO and HBO Max, up 13.1 million year over year, or 22%.

All of that is separate from the fact that AT&T is set to spin off its WarnerMedia division by the close in the second quarter of 2022. It will combine with Discovery and create a new major player in the entertainment space.

“A year and a half ago,” AT&T CEO John Stanley said in the earnings release, “we began simplifying our business to reposition AT&T for growth and we’re extremely pleased with how we’ve executed on that commitment. We ended 2021 the way we started it — by growing our customer relationships, running our operations more effectively and efficiently, and sharpening our focus. Our momentum is strong and we’re confident there is more opportunity to continue to grow our customer base and drive costs from the business.”

HBO Max costs $15 for the ad-free version, which also includes higher resolution and the ability to watch select movies in 4K, as well as download shows for offline viewing. The $10-a-month plan with ads lacks those things and also is limited to the United States.

In addition to direct subscriptions, HBO Max also is available through the Amazon Appstore, Apple App Store, Google Play, Roku, Samsung TV, and Xfinity.

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