Mar 12, 2021 - Economy

Streaming giants raise subscriber projections following breakout year

Illustration of a hand measuring a play button

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Streaming giants say they expect to add far more subscribers in the next few years than previously projected thanks to unprecedented streaming adoption during the pandemic.

Be smart: In the U.S., where at least 80% of households have at least one internet-connected TV device, streaming has become pretty saturated. Streamers see expansion opportunities as they start to expand abroad.

Driving the news: AT&T executives said Friday in an investor presentation that the company expects 120-150 million worldwide HBO Max and HBO subscribers by the end of 2025, up from the 75-90 million projected in October 2019. 

  • Earlier Friday, AT&T CEO John Stankey noted on CNBC that product improvements, as well as more production once lockdowns are lifted and a focus on international growth will help bolster subscriber counts.
  • "We grew more in the last 7 months of last year than we did in the previous decade," Stankey said. The company plans to open in 60 new markets by the end of the year.

The big picture: AT&T's projections look small compared to rivals Disney+ and Netflix, which now have more than 100 million and 200 million paid global subscribers, respectively.

  • Disney said last December that it now forecasts having at least 230-260 million subscribers to Disney+ by 2024. That's a massive number, considering that the company initially aimed for 60-90 million subscribers by 2024.
    • In total, Disney says it expects all of its streaming services, including Hulu, ESPN+, etc., to hit 300–350 million total subscriptions by 2024.
  • ViacomCBS, a newcomer to the streaming game, said last month prior to launching its new Paramount+ streaming service that it expects 65-75 million streaming subscribers by 2024. It expects to hit 100-120 million global monthly active users for its free streaming service, Pluto, that year as well.
  • Peacock projects its' streaming service will have 30-35 million active users by 2024.
  • Netflix hasn't put out long-term projections, but analysts expect it to hit around 300 million paid global subscribers by 2024.

Go deeper: See the subscriber count, by service

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