HBOMAX 2022 growth is mostly in the US, as profitability falls
Aziz's SEARCHLIGHT pic has production suspended / The Obamas depart SPOTIFY deal / SONY shuffles some Fall pics
Mornin! This is Sean McNulty and here’s the Hollywood + Media news to know on THURSDAY April 21, 2022.
Where there’s a new smell in the air of my homestate of New Jersey… the smell of freedom! Which apparently smells a lot like weed. 😶🌫️
Today NJ becomes the latest state where legal recreational marijuana sales are now active. Way to #keepitJersey and do it the day after 4/20.
AND: Reed Hastings’s $20 Million worth of NFLX stock that he bought in late January after the Q4 earnings call stock dip… is now worth about $11.5 Million today.
ALTHOUGH: Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman went in on a cool $1.1 Billion of NFLX stock at about the same time so… hopefully he finds a way to make rent this month. (assuming they both didn’t dump their stock prior to yesterday’s 35% stock drop).
Ok I wrote that last night, and this morning I woke up to: Bill announced he indeed took a bath on the investment and has sold his entire stake yesterday, likely losing about $400 Million in less than 3 months.
ALSO: WIMBLEDON has barred Russian & Belarusian players from the tournament this June, including #2 ranked men’s player Daniil Medvedev.
📽 THE SILVER SCREEN
JUST 5 THINGS
SEARCHLIGHT has suspended production on the Aziz Ansari directed pic “Being Mortal” almost halfway into the shoot, due to a complaint filed last week. No more details other than it apparently does not involve Aziz, who is co-starring in the pic with Bill Murray and Seth Rogen. /Deadline
SEARCHLIGHT sets “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el to direct pic of sci-fi book ”Mockingbird”. About a suicidal android who comes together with a man and a woman to help humanity discover itself again in a future civilization that has declined due to tech and drugs. J. Miles Dale (“Nightmare Alley”) producing. /Deadline
PARAMOUNT+ orders “Toxicomania” pic based on extremely popular Spanish language podcast about a short lived revolution to legalize drugs in 1940’s MEXICO. /Deadline
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📺 THE TV SET
A political thriller / love story that starts in 1950’s McCarthy-era DC. About a gay romance between a political operative and a young man “brimming with idealism and religious faith”.
8 episodes, based on a book, and the series will span several decades into the AIDS crisis of the 80’s. /THR
ALSO IN TV
💻 THE MEDIA BIZ
#MediaNerd 🤓 day 2
First, let’s pour one out for AT&T’s last earnings call to include WARNER MEDIA info 🍾. They will now return to basically being a phone company. So no - I won’t be getting up early to report on AT&T’s Q2 call.
HBOMAX SUBSCRIBERS: 76.8 Million Global (+3 Million since January), 48.6 Mil US (+1.8 Million since Jan).
Meaning… their US growth far surpassed International growth (almost 2 to 1), which isn’t great considering HBOMAX’s international footprint at this point is substantial and just expanded again in the later part of Q4.
WORTH NOTING: HBOMAX discounted their US product quite a bit in Q1 with a 20% off sale in January for $8 a month (thanks btw!). And cue….👇
US AvgRevenuePerUser #ARPU: $11.24 a month, that’s down about -4.5% vs. a year ago.
Of note - amongst all the NETFLIX piling on yesterday, unlike HBOMAX - their ARPU has continued to grow quarter after quarter… and they never discount their product.
A subtlety that I’m sure Wall Street will completely ignore.
INFO AT&T DOESN’T SHARE (also unlike NETFLIX):
Breakdowns of subscribers by global region, with accompanying ARPU.
A projection of the direction HBOMAX subs will go in Q2.
Revenues: $8.7 Billion (+2.5% from a year ago, and about $800 Million more than NETFLIX).
HOWEVER: Profits: -32% vs. last year to $1.3 Billion. Creating CNN+ and making a new “GOT” isn’t cheap. This is $200 Million less than NETFLIX.
This is fine. There is growth… even though a good deal of it likely came from discounting the product, and recent Q4 2021 expansion into some new territories in EUROPE (incl SPAIN) and LATAM (ie levers NETFLIX can no longer or just does not pull).
But assuming there will be no repeat HBOMAX discounting in Q2… and a programming lineup that includes a lot of returning favorites (“Hacks”, “The Flight Attendant”), but not a lot of new series or big movies to bring in new subscribers - this is the quarter to watch.
The new “GOT” series should help turn around any dips in Q3 (August launch).
BUT: The perception of HBOMAX on Wall Street will change in Q2.
HBOMAX / WARNER MEDIA is now tucked into a phone company with revenues 5X bigger than theirs. AT&T’s earnings call is about 95% phone biz talk #superExciting
WBD / “WARNER DISCO” will be judged primarily on the success of HBOMAX (and DISCO+). So any not-so-great news will be amplified, even though it may not be materially different than anything when it was part of AT&T, as will their finances…
So - passing grade on Q1, but big ?? hang over Q2.
SMALL CAVEAT ON HBOMAX SUBSCRIPTION #s: Unlike other streaming services - these numbers indicate everyone who has access to HBOMAX…. not necessarily everyone who has actually signed up for an account or used it in the past 3 months.
Ie. It includes HBO cable subscribers who still haven’t signed up for HBOMAX even though they have free access. No indication as to what that number is. But in the spirit of “ya pay for it… so who cares if ya use it”, it makes sense as a metric.
Also does not include free trial accounts.
ALSO IN MEDIA
The Obamas end their exclusive SPOTIFY podcast deal, looking for a new home although projects will continue to drop thru the Fall. Unrelated - Anyone have AMAZON’s number? /Bloomberg
Florida Republican State Senators give the finger to DISNEY, passing law revoking their self-government privileges for WALT DISNEY WORLD after 55 years. House still has to pass it and DeSantis will have to sign it… all of which will have the tension of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Although it’s unclear if there will be any real repercussions here outside of the 🖕, and it won’t take effect for another 15 month so… still some time here. /THR
🏦 STOCK NOTES:
Basically… the NETFLIX effect:
DISNEY -5% ($124.57)
ROKU -6% ($109.57)
WARNER DISCO -6% ($23.01)
PARAMOUNT -8% ($33.16)
SPOTIFY -11% ($122.49)
ROBLOX -12% ($36.75)
and then others:
WARNER MUSIC -6% ($32.67)
AMC THEATERS -7% ($17.34)
FACEBOOK -8% ($200.42)
SNAP -8% ($30.76)
but of course…. BUZZFEED +7% ($4.92)
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👩💻 NEW TO WATCH:
HBOMAX “The Flight Attendant” Season 2 - STREAM HERE
HBOMAX “Marlon Wayans presents The Headliners” - STREAM HERE
PARAMOUNT+ “The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans” - STREAM HERE
COMEDY CENTRAL “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Globe: Hungary for Democracy” special with Jordan in HUNGARY to explore life under the right-wing government, Airs at 1130p
🎥 TRAILER HOUSE
APPLE TV+ “Prehistoric Planet” docuseries trailer - 5 parts on what the world used to look like before iPhones. From the “Planet Earth” folks and narrated by David Attenborough. Premeires Mon May 23
🎧 PLAYING ME OFF
New PHOEBE BRIDGERS “Sidelines” - This is from the new Sally Rooney HULU series.
If you need some new tunes:
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