AT&T reported second-quarter outcomes Thursday, and the numbers confirmed buyer defections throughout the board, together with in its wi-fi, broadband and satellite tv for pc TV companies. However arguably its most anticipated metric was how many individuals signed up for its new HBO Max streaming service.
The platform, launched in late Might, attracted 4.1 million clients in its first month, the corporate reported; compared, the rival Disney+ signed up 10 million within the first 24 hours. AT&T mentioned it hoped to have 50 million HBO Max and HBO clients by 2025.
To get there, AT&T might want to convert extra of its common HBO clients to HBO Max clients. Over 23.5 million individuals who pay for normal HBO are in a position to change to HBO Max.
AT&T sells two variations of HBO: One is the premium cable community, and the opposite is the brand new streaming product. Each value the identical, however HBO Max has rather more content material.
A key purpose behind AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner was to develop a brand new streaming service, partly to maintain AT&T cellphone subscribers from defecting to rival operators. AT&T gives reductions on HBO Max to a few of its cellphone clients.
AT&T needs individuals to purchase HBO Max or convert their cable account to HBO Max. As a result of most individuals get HBO by their cable or satellite tv for pc supplier, AT&T has lower offers with most of them to permit their clients to make the change.
However that doesn’t imply everybody has. Or can. Amazon, a giant outlet for HBO, sells HBO by its Amazon Channels service, nevertheless it hasn’t been in a position to strike a cope with AT&T to transform these individuals to HBO Max clients. HBO Max clients can also’t watch the service on Amazon’s Fireplace gadgets.
AT&T’s chief government, John Stankey, had some harsh phrases for Amazon on the earnings name after the report. “We’ve tried repeatedly to make HBO Max obtainable” on Amazon, he mentioned. “Sadly, Amazon has taken an strategy of treating HBO Max and its clients in another way than how they’ve chosen to deal with different providers and their clients.”
A consultant for Amazon mentioned it didn’t have a response to Mr. Stankey’s feedback. At concern are fee charges and buyer information, in addition to how the apps play throughout completely different programs.
Clients might also be confused about HBO versus HBO Max, or is probably not conscious they will even make the change — an ongoing advertising and marketing problem for AT&T.
In October, Mr. Stankey referred to as it a gauge of the client’s mind energy: “Why wouldn’t you need twice the content material for a similar worth?” he mentioned on the time. However on Thursday’s earnings name he acknowledged the confusion and mentioned, “We nonetheless have work to do to teach and encourage” clients to undertake the newer service.
The corporate’s conventional TV enterprise, together with its satellite tv for pc (previously often known as DirecTV) and on-line cable platform, noticed a web lack of 954,000 clients, a downturn it blamed on decrease family spending due to the pandemic. It was an additional signal the corporate may find yourself promoting that enterprise altogether. A mixture with the rival Dish may assist each firms, however such a deal would face steep regulatory hurdles.
Elsewhere, AT&T’s wi-fi division noticed a lack of 154,000 clients in its conventional service the place individuals pay a month-to-month invoice. It added about 165,000 new clients to its pay as you go plans.
Factoring in resellers and different linked gadgets like tablets, AT&T now claims 171.Four million complete wi-fi accounts, an eight % enhance from final yr. The cellphone big nonetheless has loads of money coming within the door, permitting it to pay down its huge debt and shell out dividends.
Income at its HBO division was down 5.2 % to $1.6 billion, a results of extra individuals canceling or slicing again their cable and satellite tv for pc accounts. However AT&T is spending extra — prices have been up a few third to $1.5 billion — to spend money on HBO Max. Content material is pricey.
Promoting income for the corporate’s cable community division, which incorporates CNN, TNT and TBS (the place it airs sports activities programming), dropped 37 % to $796 million, the largest shortfall throughout the media group.