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2021 was poised to be a big year for HBO Max, as the streamer has a lot of content on the docket. So far, the service has dished out new original content and has dropped new Warner Bros. films as part of the studio’s simultaneous theatrical/streaming model for its 2021 releases. When it comes to original content, one of the most highly anticipated projects was the delayed Friends: The Reunion. So keeping all of that hype in mind, how popular was the special compared to the heavily debated Zack Snyder’s Justice League?
HBO Max, like most other streaming services, does not release official viewership numbers to the public. However, market measuring firm Antenna (via TheWrap), released numbers that reportedly show the impact of Friends: The Reunion. According to the firm’s numbers, the reunion special drove more subscribers for the service than any of Warner Bros.' high-profile films of 2021. This reportedly includes blockbuster titans like Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat.
Antenna’s numbers suggest that Friends: The Reunion’s sign-up gains are the most HBO Max has seen since the release of Wonder Woman 1984, which is reportedly still the service’s biggest sign-up driver ever. Interestingly, the data also claims that most of the new subscribers were women. It’s important to note that Antenna’s information is derived from different opt-in panels. This includes budgeting apps that are meant to track purchase and transaction data (excluding free trials).
While we cannot officially attribute these alleged viewership gains to Friends: The Reunion, it can be said that many viewers seemed to be pleased with the special. The highly anticipated special reunited the show’s six original cast members, along with a host of other surprise guests. And of course, it included a number of sweet moments that likely had more than few people teary-eyed. You can still stream the special now on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.
On the other side of the equation, Warner Bros.’ same-day theatrical/streaming model has yielded mixed responses from industry analysts and the filmmakers behind the productions. Tenet’s Christopher Nolan, who has long collaborated with the studio, shared some particularly blunt thoughts on the matter. Likewise, Dune’s Denis Villeneuve also shared some impassioned sentiments about the decision.
HBO Max and WarnerMedia as a whole have certainly had their share of ups and downs over the past year. One can only speculate as to how things will continue to shape up for the streaming service as the year pushes on. We’ll also be keeping our ears open for any official updates on viewership or milestones from the streamer itself.