HBO and HBO Max gain 13 million subscribers in 2021

Photo (c) Joaquin Ossorio-Castillo - Getty Images

The service still trails other streaming giants in subscribers, but it's growth is trending upwards

In the world of streaming, all the clamor lately has been on Netflix’s fall from grace. But where did all those eyeballs that Netflix lost go? Disney+ certainly got its fair share, but the old dog in the game – HBO – added 13 million subscribers in 2021 between its main service and HBO Max, growing its revenue stream to $7.7 billion in subscription revenue.

Added together, HBO and HBO Max have a combined 76.8 million subscribers worldwide. Admittedly, that’s a far cry from Netflix’s 221.64 million subscribers or Disney+’ 129.8 million, but parent company AT&T was gleeful about how HBO is performing. Company officials stated in a recent earnings report that the growth was driven by both international and domestic retail subscriber gains.

What makes HBO so attractive?

While Netflix and Amazon Prime have tried to expand their content libraries, HBO concentrated more on original programming, first-run exclusives, made-for-cable movies, and documentaries. Along the way, it kept its competitors’ hands off of content from Universal Pictures and 20th Century Studios, Sesame Street, and Wimbledon. Now that Warner Bros. and Discovery are part of the family, HBO has everything from Elmo to Wonder Woman all to itself.

“The first thing to know about HBO Max is that it has everything on HBO,'' CNET reported in a comparative review of Netflix and HBO Max. “Max also has exclusive originals that "normal" HBO  subscribers won't be able to watch.” 

“In general, HBO Max is ramping up its new originals, and we expect that to increase over time. Though its 8.0 rating is neck-and-neck with Prime Video, HBO Max consistently drops new releases, possesses a large back catalog and offers smooth, user-friendly features,” Rayome and Jackson said.

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