HBO Max Just Can’t Relate to Netflix’s Password Sharing Woes

Netflix may be struggling to curb password sharing but HBO Max just can’t relate! During a call with analysts after releasing its own Q1 earnings, AT&T CEO John Stankey shared some parting thoughts about how HBO Max manages password sharing. And, quite simply, the streaming platform manages the issue just fine.

WarnerMedia and Discovery’s merger is officially a done deal. But as Q1 marked WarnerMedia and AT&T’s final months together, the earnings report included WarnerMedia’s portfolio. (This includes HBO Max and the ill-fated CNN+.) Stankey noted that WarnerMedia deeply thought about how to manage password sharing when developing HBO Max. Specifically, it wanted to give users “flexibility” without it sinking into abuse territory.

Jennifer Holland, Chukwudi Iwuji, Steve Agee, John Cena, Danielle Brooks in Peacemaker on HBO Max. HBO Max does not have Netflix's password sharing issues.
Katie Yu/HBO Max

“We were thoughtful about how we built the product and that we gave customers enough flexibility but we don’t want to see rampant abuse,” Stankey said, according to Deadline. He added that HBO Max states its terms and conditions in the user agreement and the company is enforcing those standards. “We actively in any given month are looking at how many users are using the product… I think that’s the right way for the industry to be managed and I think maybe some are going to adjust practices over time.”

The words are particularly pointed given their timing. Just this week, Netflix shared that 100 million users are streaming programming without paying for it. The company has already launched a pilot program to crack down on password sharing in Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile. And the program in one form or another will likely go global in the next year or so. 

Bill Hader in Barry season three
Merrick Morton/HBO

Starkey certainly has reason to feel pretty good about HBO Max, given he’s no longer responsible for the streaming service. The AT&T Q1 report saw HBO and HBO Max climb to nearly 77 million subscribers globally, an increase of 12.8 million, year over year. AT&T exits the fray as HBO Max looks to expand in other global territories.

But that’s not to say the former WarnerMedia is exclusively thriving in the streaming space. HBO and HBO Max is home to a whole lot of prestige content—and some highly-anticipated shows still on the way. But the HBO Max app is famously glitchy. It has crashed during at least a few high-profile season finales. The interface also doesn’t feel very user-friendly. And that’s to say nothing about CNN+. On April 21, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that CNN+ will shutter on April 30—just one month after its launch. (For reference, Quibi folded after seven months.) The news arrived just a  week after reports indicated the streaming service boasted just 10,000 daily users.

Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith look at each other in the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon

Still, Warner Bros. Discovery will have to iron out its streaming strategy in the near future. In addition to Warner’s HBO Max and CNN+ (RIP), Discovery entered the fold with Discovery+. The company has indicated plans to eventually merge its streaming platforms into one larger content library. Who knows, maybe one day Warner Bros. Discovery will face the same password-sharing woes as Netflix, but Stankey will certainly not be answering for it. 

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