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Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

HBO added over 5 million domestic digital subscribers across its HBO and Cinemax services in 2017 — it's largest annual increase ever, the company announced in an SEC filing Thursday.

Why it matters: The increase is a result of a years-long overhaul of the company's content distribution strategy to broaden their subscription base so that they don't need to charge cable and satellite companies more to carry their content.

  • Over the past few years, HBO has renegotiated new contracts with Pay-TV providers to give them larger cuts of subscription revenues in return for marketing their channel.
  • They were also one of the first premium channels to establish distribution partnerships with digital streaming companies, like DirectTV and Amazon.

Subscription revenues for HBO and Cinemax increased 11% since this time last year, and the network now has 142 million subscribers globally, with roughly 10% coming from digital-only subscriptions.

  • HBO CEO Richard Plepler says the digital revolution has been a good opportunity to grow HBO's business. "We always looked at the opportunity to reach a bigger market as a win-win," Plepler he said at a recent NYU Skirball event. "A win for the consumer, a win for new partners and traditional partners, and a win for us."

Turner, HBO's parent company, also experienced a solid 13% subscription growth, which is impressive given the rate at which consumers are "cutting the cord," or getting rid of their cable subscriptions.

Time Warner, the parent company to Turner and HBO, saw stock increases Thursday in light of positive earnings. Time Warner is currently undergoing a Justice Department challenge to its proposed merger with AT&T.

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.