Streaming content seems to be the way of the future, but with so many options for paying customers to partake in, the competition is fierce among platforms trying to attract and keep subscribers. HBO Max and Discovery+ will soon combine their libraries, as HBO’s parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery on April 8 to form Warner Bros. Discovery. That wasn’t the only big news for HBO Max, however, as they posted global subscriber gains in the first quarter. Streaming giant Netflix, meanwhile, reported an unexpectedly large plunge in subscribers over the first three months of 2022.
The good news first: in its last quarter under AT&T, HBO and HBO Max subscriptions increased by 3 million globally, and the company reported a year-over-year increase of 12.8 million customers, Deadline reports. That’s promising news for the company in the midst of a merger, proving that viewers were definitely tuning in for those exclusive HBO Max movies, as well as original series like And Just Like That… and Kaley Cuoco's The Flight Attendant, whose second season just premiered. Looking just domestically, the cable channel and streaming service gained 4.4 million subscribers for a total of 48.6 million.
The company's success comes even as HBO Max lost exclusive access to most of Warner Bros. new movie releases. With theaters being back up and running, the studio will release all but 10 movies in 2022 in theaters first, waiting 45 days before making them available via streaming. However, when Discovery+ content is folded into HBO Max, the new programming (including Ghost Adventures and the 90 Day Fiancé franchise) could help to compensate for those losses.
One service that didn't survive the merger was CNN+. Launched on March 29, just ahead of the merger, the subscription service will be shut down at the end of April. Warner Bros. Discovery cited the inability to provide live breaking news as one of its reasons. Executives said some CNN+ programming and employees will be absorbed into the television network and website but there will be layoffs. The head of CNN+, Andrew Morse, is leaving the company, ABC News reported.
Over at Netflix, meanwhile, there was little to celebrate. The company lost over 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter and expects to lose another 2 million more in the next three months. Netflix’s stock plummeted in light of the news, Variety reported, as this was the first time Netflix subscriptions were down over a quarter in 10 years.
The streaming service allegedly said not accounting for lost subscriptions in Russia — where Netflix cut services following the country’s invasion of Ukraine — the streamer would have added 500,000 subscriptions last quarter rather than seen a loss. That gain, however, would still have been far less than the predictions of both Netflix and Wall Street analysts, who expected to see a bump in paying customers somewhere between 2.5 million and 2.8 million.
Netflix — which quietly increased its subscription prices again in January — released some highly anticipated content in Q1, including the second season of Shonda Rhimes’ period hit Bridgerton (not to mention another Rhimes original — Inventing Anna), Murderville, and Ryan Reynolds’ time-traveling action adventure The Adam Project. Rather than the content, the streaming service cited both increased competition and password-sharing as reasons for the decline.
Password-sharing is an issue that Netflix is trying to tackle, and plans were also announced this week to introduce a less-expensive Netflix plan that would include commercials. Netflix COO Greg Peters said while the company has always tried to combat the "complexity of advertising" with the "simplicity of subscription," he values the consumers being able to make that choice for themselves. Some customers, he said, would rather deal with advertisements than pay more per month.
The issue of password-sharing came up on AT&T’s analysts call, as well, regarding its former streaming sites. Variety reports CEO John Stankey said AT&T already has been mindful of policing that issue and restricting questionable log-ins in a “customer-sensitive way.”
Check out our 2022 TV schedule to see what shows are premiering soon on TV and streaming.
Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.
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