AT&T Touts Big HBO Max Subscriber Gains, but Many of Them Aren’t Paying

Streamer had 37.7 million total subscribers in 2020, mostly via account activations

Wonder Woman 1984
AT&T CEO John Stankey said not every 2021 film release on HBO Max will drive the 'subscriber spikes' that Wonder Woman 1984 did in December and early January. Warner Bros. Entertainment

WarnerMedia’s bet to release Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max in December, plus two recent major distribution deals with Amazon Fire TV and Roku, seems to have paid off in terms of driving customers to the upstart streaming service. But that growth comes with a catch: Many of those new subscribers aren’t actually paying HBO Max’s sticker price and are instead activating their existing HBO accounts for free.  

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.