HBO Max chief on launching the new service during a pandemic

Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-To-Consumer, speaks onstage at HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day Presentation at Warner Bros. Studios on October 29, 2019 in Burbank, California.

HBO Max, AT&T's big bet on streaming, brought in more than four million subscribers in the month following its May 27 launch, the company announced on Thursday.

HBO and HBO Max combined in an effort to bring the total number subscribers to 36.3 million subscribers by the end of June, John Stankey, AT&T's CEO, told analysts on the company's earnings call. (AT&T owns WarnerMedia, CNN's parent company).

The combination exceeded its goal, although HBO Max may not have had as eye-popping a debut as Disney+, which brought in 10 million subscribers on day one and 50 million in roughly five months. But 4 million sign ups in the combined service's first month puts HBO Max solidly on track for its initial projections.

AT&T said last year that the service will have 50 million subscribers in the United States by 2025.

HBO Max was able to procure four million subscribers in a month without being offered on Roku and Amazon Fire TV — two of the most popular devices that consumers use to watch streaming services.

"We've tried repeatedly to make HBO Max available to all customers using Amazon Fire devices," Stankey told analysts on Thursday. "Unfortunately, Amazon has taken an approach of treating HBO Max and its customers differently than how they've chosen to treat other services and their customers."

Streaming services have seen a boost thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced millions to stay home and upended Hollywood by delaying films and shuttering theaters. For example, Warner Bros.' "Tenet," a thriller from Christopher Nolan, was delayed again earlier this week. It was originally supposed to open on August 12.

Stankey told investors that "theatrical still has an absolute important role moving forward," but opened the door to allow more titles to make their way to viewers in their homes.

"I don't know when theaters are going to reopen. Just like I'm not sure I can say I know exactly when schools are going to reopen and what the circumstances are going to be around it," he said. "There's no question that the longer this goes on, there's going to be some content on the margin that we look at and say it may be better served to be distributed in another construct."

HBO Max has an extensive content library that pulls programming from WarnerMedia's premium cable network, HBO; the company's nearly 100-year-old film and television studio, Warner Bros.; and cable channels including TNT, TBS, and Turner Classic Movies.

The service costs $14.99 a month, making it twice as much as Disney+ and more than Neflix's standard plan, which costs $12.99 per month.

Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia entertainment and direct-to-consumer, explained to CNN Business in May why the service is worth the price.

"It is a highly curated platform, made up of the entire HBO service, as well as a deep library from the Warner Bros. film and television libraries, third-party acquisitions, and an enormous new slate of original production that we call the Max Originals," he said. "Twice the content of HBO for the same price.

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