HBO Max will reach nearly 80 million US viewers in 2021

In September, we raised our forecast for HBO Max viewers. We now believe that HBO Max will have nearly 80 million monthly viewers this year, and that it will surpass 100 million viewers by the end of 2023. Previously, we did not expect HBO Max to break 100 million viewers by the end of our forecast period in 2025.

We increased the HBO Max viewer forecast for several reasons. Not long ago, HBO viewers belonged to a confusing assortment of services. In addition to people accessing HBO via linear TV, there was HBO Go (which required a pay TV authenticated login); HBO Now (a standalone streaming service featuring just HBO-produced content); people who received HBO via Prime Video Channels; and HBO Max (the newest streaming service from the company, which includes a broader content library from its parent company WarnerMedia).

The older streaming services HBO Go and Now have been replaced by Max, and HBO has been removed from Prime Video Channels. These developments allow HBO Max to absorb viewership from various HBO domains that have either been shuttered or rebranded.

When HBO Max launched, it also had significant distribution problems. The service was not initially available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, the two most popular connected TV (CTV) viewing platforms. These days, HBO Max is widely available, including on Roku and Fire TV. And now that HBO Max has been out for more than a year, we also have clearer numbers from the company about how well the service is doing at adding subscribers.

HBO Max’s number of subscribers was also bolstered by WarnerMedia releasing its new movies straight to the streaming service through the past year. Together, the shrinking theatrical window, clearer subscriber metrics from the company, improved distribution, and consolidated operations have helped HBO Max add viewers at a faster rate than we previously expected.

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