It seems like you need more than dragons to draw audiences to your streaming service. Well, HBO Max does, anyway.
During your third quarter 2022 earnings report (opens in new tab), Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) revealed that streaming subscriptions were increasing across all three home entertainment platforms. For those unaware, that trio includes HBO Max, HBO, and Discovery Plus, with the triumvirate’s global subscriber base totaling 94.9 million paying customers.
Contextually, this sounds like good news for WBD. The entertainment giant, which was only recently formed following a merger between the two companies, added 2.8 million subscribers across its three streamers between July and September 2022 — a small but seemingly significant increase that brings it closer to the all-time high. than 100 million. By comparison, Netflix added just 2.41 million news subscribers over the same period.
However, while WBD may boast about the new subscribers it has gained over the past three months, these numbers don’t represent the full picture.
For one, WBD declined to provide a full breakdown of how many subscribers each streaming platform has. The latest official figures provided by Warner Bros. came in April 2022 – Warner was an independent company at the time – which revealed that HBO Max had a subscriber base of 76.8 million (for cable cutters (opens in new tab)). In February 2022, Discovery confirmed that Discovery Plus had amassed 22 million paying customers in the fourth quarter of 2021 (for Variety (opens in new tab)). Add those two numbers together – totaling 98.8 million – and it looks like WBD actually lost subscribers between January and November 2022.
So what gives? It is likely that with the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery, customers who pay for HBO Max and Discovery Plus simply had their accounts grouped together in the grand total of WBD subscribers. Without a full breakdown of each platform’s fanbase though, we can only assume that this is the main reason behind this actual small drop.
Regardless of the murky nature of the WBD’s total subscriber base, the fact that the megacorporation has yet to surpass 100 million subscribers is sure to be a huge disappointment.
This is particularly true for HBO and HBO Max. House of the Dragon, the long-awaited prequel series to Game of Thrones that launched on August 21, was one of the biggest TV hits of the year. According to WBD’s earnings report, House of the Dragon was the series’ biggest debut in HBO history, with the R-rated high fantasy drama pulling in nearly 10 million viewers on its opening night alone. The HBO Max show was also the biggest series launch on the streaming service in the US and Latin America and EMEA regions, with every episode averaging 29 million viewers in the following weeks.
Despite House of the Dragon’s growing popularity, however, it failed to ignite the push from WBD subscribers to HBO and HBO Max. The series may have some of the biggest viewership numbers of 2022, but WBD has only turned 10% of that audience (2.8 million new users out of 29 million House of the Dragon viewers) into paying customers. And they are new subscribers to HBO, HBO Max and Discovery Plus. Not exactly convincing, is it?
Even with a colossally popular show, WBD’s streaming services still can’t measure up to their rivals when it comes to having a sizable fan base. Despite the problems it faced throughout 2022, Netflix’s 223 million subscriber base ensures that it is still the king of the streaming scene.
Disney Plus is catching up to Netflix, however, with the house of Marvel and Star Wars posting numbers of 152.1 million subscribers (per Variety (opens in new tab)) In August. Across all of its streaming platforms, including ESPN Plus and Hulu, Disney’s total subscriber base is 221.1 million – further proof of just how far WBD has to go to match its competitors.
Clearly, HBO Max and its cousins have a long way to go to catch Netflix and Disney Plus in the increasingly tense subscriber race. Fan-favorite shows including Succession, House of the Dragon and Euphoria will continue to help you grow. And thanks to its catalog of HBO Max series and movies, WBD should feel confident about making inroads in the fight to reach as many viewers as possible. They’re just two reasons why we think HBO Max is the best streaming service of 2022.
But it’s not all good news for HBO Max and company. HBO Max and Discovery Plus won’t exist in their current forms for much longer, with WBD planning to consolidate the streaming platforms into one giant service in Q1 or 2 of 2023. A price increase is also being planned, while HBO Max -Discovery merged Plus platform can see the number of ads doubled at its ad-based subscription level.
“Dreams didn’t make us kings, dragons did,” Prince Daemon told Queen Rhaenyra at the end of the first season of House of the Dragon. That may be true in Westeros, but it’s not in the real world – and Warner Bros. Discovery must be well aware of this as it tries to assert its dominance in the streaming industry.
For more WBD-based content, read the five big questions House of the Dragon season 2 needs to address. Alternatively, learn how much an HBO Max subscription costs now, check out everything worth knowing about HBO’s TV adaptation of The Last of US, or find out how to watch DC movies in order.