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HBO Max, discovery+ Combine to Add 1.1 Million Subscribers; Reach 96.1 Global Customers

David Satin

Warner Bros. Discovery held its fourth-quarter 2022 earnings report on Wednesday, and the company saw healthy growth in the three-month period. Its two streaming services HBO Max and discovery+ combined to add 1.1 million users since the 94.9 million streaming subscribers WBD reported having in Q3. In total, the services collectively boast 96.1 subscribers.

Big-time premieres on HBO Max in the quarter include “The White Lotus,” as well as highly regarded films like “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “The Menu,” which helped drive subscriber growth. The combined subscriber total for the two services is a year-over-year increase of 27.3 over the 68.8 million total users they reported in Q4 of 2021. At the time, the streamers were owned by separate companies, with discovery+ having 22 million customers and HBO Max boasting 46.8M. Since the merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia, the subscription totals for the services have been reported together.

Included in the numbers was the fact that domestically, the streamers combined to grow by more than 1.1M customers, while internationally, the total grew by just 100,000 subscribers. In total, HBO Max and discovery+ subscribers in the United States totaled 54.6 million, while the streamers have 41.5M customers abroad. The foreign growth is notable as it is by far the fewest new customers that the two services have combined to add to date; neither HBO Max, discovery+, nor the combined services have ever failed to add fewer than 600,000 international subscribers in a single quarter. This could reflect the international pullback that the company has been undergoing in a response to the mounting price tag associated with Discovery’s acquisition of WarnerMedia.

In the U.S., the added 1.1M customers are the best quarter since the end of Q1 2022 when the services boasted a 4.1 million subscriber addition. However, that is the only customer base growth of more than 1 million domestic subscribers before Q4 2022 since Q2 2021; so while things appear to be rocky for WBD as it transitions to a unified company, it is finding ways to continue to attract more customers domestically.

The company is still well behind the world’s largest streaming service Netflix, which last reported having over 230M global users. The Disney streaming family is also still ahead of WBD’s services, combining for 234.7M users between Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

WBD is still ahead of the more modestly sized services in the industry, however. Paramount+ most recently reported having around 56M users, while NBCUniversal’s streamer Peacock now claims around 20M. Neither Prime Video nor Apple TV+ report their subscriber numbers publicly.

The biggest news story to come out about WBD between its Q3 and Q4 earnings reports is the decision by the company not to merge its two streaming services into one. HBO Max and discovery+ were set to combine this spring, and the company had even begun taking steps to finalize a new name for the service. But in early February, WBD announced that while much of discovery+’s content would be migrating to HBO Max, it would be keeping both services as separate entities.

There were plenty of other stories from WBD in the quarter, as well. The company’s strategy for its DC properties under the guidance of producer Peter Safran and director James Gunn began to take shape; bigger heroes like Batman and Superman will be used to carry the theatrical side of DC content, while lesser-known characters will fill out the DC universe on HBO Max. Select DC characters will also appear in animated shows on Prime Video, which acquired the rights to produce such series from WBD in late November.

WBD had to contend with the end of its partnership with Legendary Entertainment during the quarter. Legendary had been feuding with WBD over its former policy of day-and-date streaming releases of popular films like “Dune,” and instead of renewing the deal between the two companies decided to partner with Sony for future distribution of its movies.

Despite the loss of its Legendary partnership, WBD felt comfortable raising the cost of an HBO Max subscription for the first time in history in January. The price increased from $14.99 per month to $15.99 per month for the service’s ad-free tier, though no corresponding increase for the ad-supported tier has taken place as of yet.

The good news for HBO Max users is that company executives have confirmed the mass content cuts the service saw in 2022 are now over. Some canceled series, such as “Westworld” and “The Nevers” have been licensed to third party free streamers as part of WBD’s strategy to enhance its revenues, but the company is still planning to launch its own free ad-supported TV service as well.

HBO Max already has its next big hit on its hands, it seems. The service has seen steady ratings increases from its video game adaptation “The Last of Us,” after the series became the second-largest cross-platform debut in HBO history.


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