AT&T said its upcoming HBO Max streaming service will accumulate 50 million subscribers over the next five years.
The bullish outlook came as the wireless giant reported the loss of 1.36 million pay TV users in the third quarter. It’s traditional services, satellite TV company DirecTV and IPTV service U-verse, shed 1.16 million users in Q3, while virtual MVPD AT&T Now lost another 195,000 customers.
The losses compared to a setback of just 297,000 pay TV users in the third quarter of 2018.
For his part, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson described HBO Max as the “workhorse” for the company’s pay TV business going forward.
“Our customer relationships are something any streaming company would want,” Stephenson told investment analysts. “I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.”
HBO Max is launching into a crowded market for subscription streaming services. Not only must AT&T stare down Netflix, but it’s launching against Disney+, Comcast’s Peacock and Apple TV+.
“This is a product that’s going to be very different from any other product you’ve seen in the market so far,” Stephenson said. “This is not Netflix, this is not Disney. This is HBO Max. It’s going to have a very unique position in the marketplace.”
The CEO—who just three years ago, touted the potential of the now moribund AT&T Now—laid out an bullishly ambitious narrative for investors
“The strategic investments we’ve made over the last several years have given us the essential elements to meet growing demand for content and connectivity,” Stephenson said. “Our 3-year plan delivers both substantial and consistent financial improvements over the next 3 years. We grow revenues, EBITDA and EPS every single year, and free cash flow is stable next year, but then grows in both of the next two years, as well. And all of this is inclusive of our investment in HBO Max.”