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HBO Max Nets Most Subscribers in Q1 2021, Per Kantar

Zack Snyder's Justice League
(Image credit: Warner Media)

NEW YORK—For the second straight quarter HBO Max has garnered the most new U.S. subscribers among the major streaming services, with the Warner Media-owned SVOD service netting a 14.4% share of all new subscribers in the first quarter of 2021, according to new data from Kantar.

Do put it broadly, superheroes have come to the rescue for HBO Max. Since HBO Max announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” and the full slate of 2021 Warner Bros. movies would premiere the same day on the streaming service as they do in theaters, HBO Max has led the field in new subscribers. This most recent quarter was boosted by the arrivals of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” as well as “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

Kantar says that HBO Max is also doing well in keeping its subscribers. In Q2 2020, HBO Max had a Net Promoter Score (measuring subscriber advocacy) of 10th among streamers, it now ranks second. Customers cite the new released films among the key reasons for this rise in satisfaction, per Kantar.

HBO Max held its top spot even as two new streaming platforms became available in Q1 2021, Discovery+ and Paramount+. Paramount+, which is a rebrand and expansion of CBS All Access, took 11.8% share of new subscribers, ranking third for the quarter and just ahead of Disney+ (11.6%). Discovery+ took 7.7% share of new subscribers, though Kantar points out its content is more narrowly focused.

Among the other streamers, Amazon Prime Video—which recently surpassed 200 million subscribers—ranked second in the quarter at 13.2%; Hulu had 10.6%, Netflix 8.5%, Apple TV+ 5.6% and Peacock 4.7%.

Looking at the overall rise of streaming subscriptions, Kantar says that the average number of SVOD subscriptions per U.S. household reached 3.8 at the end of Q1 2021, up from 3.3 a year ago. More than 7% of U.S. households added a new subscription in the quarter,  bringing the total number of U.S. SVOD subscriptions to 241 million.

However, the number of households planning to cancel at least one subscription in the next three months is also increasing, now at 24.9%—it was 20.5% in Q4 2020 and 23.2% a year ago.

Ad-supported streaming services are increasing in popularity as a result of the rising cost of all these subscriptions, with Peacock and Tubi leading the way. Kantar reported that nearly half (49%) or respondents don’t mind some advertising if it makes streaming services cheaper.

When it comes to what people are watching on these streaming services, Disney+ is still the leader thanks to “WandaVision” and “The Mandalorian,” which were the top two rated SVOD titles in the U.S. for Q1 2020. Netflix’s “Bridgerton” came in third.