Strong year for HBO as AT&T prepares for post-WarnerMedia future


HBO and HBO Max added 4.4 million subscribers in Q4 2021, as parent company AT&T prepares for a future beyond the spin-off of WarnerMedia.

Overall, the US telco experienced a solid quarter of subscriber growth across telephony, broadband and TV. The company added 884,000 phone subscribers and 271,000 fibre customers in the quarter. In terms of revenue it ended the quarter at US$41 billion, beating analyst estimates of US$40.44 billion.

In spite of this however, shares of AT&T fell 3% as the market considers whether AT&T will still remain as strong after WarnerMedia is merged with Discovery in the coming months.

In terms of pure subscriber numbers, HBO was the standout for AT&T in 2021. The brand added 13.1 million subscribers to reach a base of 73.8 million globally. Titles including Dune and Succession were praised for driving growth.

CEO John Stankey, speaking on AT&T’s earning call, said that he expects the deal to close in the second quarter, adding: “Going forward, we aim to be America’s best broadband provider powered by 5G and fibre and defined by greater ubiquity, reliability, capacity and speed. 

John Stankey, CEO, AT&T

“We’re confident we can achieve that because in wireless, our focus will be continuing our subscriber momentum while increasing the pace of our 5G deployment. We’re confident in our ability to compete with 5G and our disciplined approach to selectively targeting and taking share in underpenetrated segments of the consumer and business marketplace.”

The company will lay out its future plans in more detail at a virtual analyst day in March, Stankey added.

In regards to the future of WarnerMedia, Stankey said that “we plan to hand off the business with a strong exit velocity, and we look to further our international momentum and deliver more world-class content for viewers.

“When the deal closes, the investments made in both content and HBO Max growth, coupled with strong execution by the team, will ensure Warner Bros. Discovery is positioned as a leading global media company with the depth of content and the capabilities required to lead in the next era of media,” he concluded.

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