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AT&T CFO John Stephens Says COVID-19 Didn’t Have Much Effect on HBO Max’s Content Production

Stephanie Sengwe

Though the timing of HBO Max’s launch wasn’t exactly ideal, it seems the streaming service hasn’t taken too big of a hit. Just last week, Sensor Tower reported the WarnerMedia-owned service’s mobile app managed to snag 1.7 million downloads within the first two weeks of launching. Though the number is small compared to other services that recently launched, execs at AT&T are hopeful given the fact that HBO Max launched in the middle of a global pandemic.

During today’s Credit Suisse 22nd Annual Virtual Communications Conference, AT&T CFO John Stephens revealed that not only did engagement increase between April and May for HBO Now, but he expects that to have a ripple effect on HBO Max as well. Stephens didn’t reveal any preliminary subscriber numbers, but did mention that content has been “accepted well” across their customer base.

Stephens also revealed that though they’ll have to modify their rollout schedule due to COVID-19 shuttering productions, not much of their content will be affected. “Much of our content was already well underway before COVID, and so we haven’t seen a lot of that kind of disruption yet. We will move things around,” Stephens stated. “But when you have a 100-year-old inventory in Warner Bros. and have a tremendous cache of whether it be ‘Friends’ or ‘Big Bang’ or a whole collection of cartoons for the kids or relationships with ‘Sesame Street’ and so forth, we have an ability to weather through that process very well.”

Stephens’ point of view echoes that of Sarah Aubrey, HBO Max’s head of original content. Though it’s still early days for the streaming service, it looks like customers have responded to some of HBO Max’s originals. Aubrey told The Hollywood Reporter last week that the Anna Kendrick-helmed series, “Love Life,” had gotten the largest response.

The streamer went on to renew the series for another season.

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