AT&T’s newest subscriber figures make it appear to be HBO and its sister service HBO Max are doing fairly properly — nice, even! In a regulatory filing this week, AT&T revealed that it beat its projected year-end objective with 73.8 million whole subscribers between HBO and HBO Max (even after its breakup with Amazon). Not too dangerous, proper?

However that win comes after a yr of extremely anticipated film debuts meant to balloon subscriber numbers, and it’s nonetheless tens of thousands and thousands of subscribers behind rivals like Disney Plus and Netflix. The numbers additionally include some fairly massive caveats. In different phrases, maintain the applause.

For one, AT&T’s figures (earlier reported by Selection) conflate two separate providers — HBO, its cable enterprise, and HBO Max, its streaming service — and so they don’t distinguish what number of subscribers every service has individually. WarnerMedia spokesperson Jaclyn Mandelbaum informed The Verge that extra info “will be broken out in AT&T’s earnings in a couple weeks” however declined to specify figures for every service.

AT&T’s development additionally appears much less spectacular given the high-profile content material slate it served during the last yr, together with titles like Dune, The Matrix Resurrections, and the third season of Succession. On prime of that, HBO Max added a lower-priced tier and launched internationally partway by means of the yr — each of which ought to have helped increase its subscribers considerably.

Disney Plus added greater than twice as many subscribers over an analogous time interval. Disney’s streaming service, which launched roughly six months earlier than HBO Max, reported 118.1 million paid subscribers as of October 2021, up from 73.7 million a few yr earlier. HBO’s 73.8 million document, then again, is just up from 61 million subscribers globally on the finish of 2020.

Streaming knowledge is just about not possible to deal with on a one-for-one comparability stage for myriad causes, not the least of which being that everybody is taking part in by completely different guidelines. That’s to say nothing of how piracy, account-sharing, and options like auto-play can considerably skew a really correct image of subscriber and title success.

Final yr ought to’ve been HBO Max’s yr to win. It’s going to have to seek out new methods to develop with out the assistance of a extremely anticipated day-and-date slate.

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