Wonder Woman 1984 was the first mid-pandemic superhero film to give up on the idea of a traditional box office premiere and open its gilded arms to the streaming universe. When HBO Max announced that the Patty Jenkins-helmed sequel would be landing on the platform Christmas Day, it was clear that it would stand as one of the streamer’s biggest (for now) debuts since its inception. According to CNET, HBO’s latest quarterly report quantifies just how much of an impact the movie has made on the streamer, confirming that “HBO Max doubled its number of total activations at the end of 2020 compared with three months earlier,” bringing the total to 17.2 million accounts. In October, HBO’s parent company AT&T disclosed that HBO Max secured only 8.6 million signups through September.
It’s worth noting that “activations” is the key word here. Unlike its major competitors Netflix and Disney+, which users can only access via a paying subscription, HBO Max is available a number of ways, including automatic access through an existing HBO subscription with their cable provider. The boost here refers to the number of folks who finally decided to dust off the app and create an account, but the data doesn’t differentiate between those who chose to shell out the extra bucks for HBO Max directly and those who always had access and finally succumbed to the siren’s call of “MORE CONTENT!” Simply put: WW84 clearly boosted interest in the streamer, but it’s not clear if that jump in accounts included an increase in revenue.
Ultimately, the magnitude of the increase lies in the eyes of the beholder. On one hand, platforms like WWE Network—which was just acquired by Peacock—would have probably endured a few cage matches for even 8.6 million active accounts. On the other hand, comparing the 17.2 million total users to the 37.7 million households that are technically eligible to launch the app at no additional cost might still make the whole thing underwhelming. Time and a crapload of incoming movies from WarnerMedia will paint a clearer picture of HBO Max’s growth, but this recent uptick in logins lassoed by Diana Prince is a promising start.