Netflix Keeps Its Lead Over HBO in U.S. Subscriber Count

Updated 1Q figures has HBO at 28.77 million subs--still behind Netflix's 29.17 million

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When Netflix reported its U.S. subscriber count back in April, it marked a milestone quarter for the streaming service: Its 29.17 million count pushed it ahead of rival HBO for the first time.

And now that SNL Kagan has updated its quarterly tracking of domestic subs for the premium networks, that lead is intact.

HBO inched forward 50,000 subs in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest data, bringing it to 28.77 million. The 0.2% increase leaves the Time Warner-owned network still behind Netflix.

The modest increase is fairly consistent with HBO’s typical quarterly trending. While the network loves to tout all the potential subscriber growth upside that keeps the company from offering HBO Go as a standalone product, HBO has been hovering around 28 million for years. The other 70 million or so pay-TV subs in the U.S. may represent a ceiling HBO is never going to crack.

But while sub count is a high-profile metric Wall Street loves, HBO isn’t necessarily sweating the count or any kind of horserace with Netflix given its global footprint is still far from what Netflix has achieved. With overseas figured added in, HBO has 114 million to Netflix’s 7.14 million.  HBO also likely has revenue splits with some pay-TV distributors that could hand over more than the $8 Netflix gets to keep itself per each subscriber.

Among the other pay nets, Showtime reached 22.7 million and Starz, 21.6 million. Both added well over 300,000 subs over the previous quarter.

As for HBO/Netflix, the next update will come in July, when Netflix is expected to report second-quarter earnings.