Discovery and AT&T are to merge their media assets and create a new streaming service that could take on the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus.
The deal, which was announced this morning, is expected to see AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit join forces with Discovery on the new venture. Both companies have focused on the streaming market in the past year with the launch of HBO Max and Discovery Plus.
The agreement would merge HBO Max, Turner Networks, CNN, Warner Bros. Pictures and other WarnerMedia properties with Discovery’s global portfolio of media networks and streaming platforms.
Discovery boss David Zaslav has been named CEO of the new company.
Combined, the two companies would fall well short of the streaming reach needed to match or surpass Disney (nearly 150 million worldwide when you combine Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus), and Netflix (208 million customers). But the combined resources of WarnerMedia and Discovery would be closer to the other two, in terms of scale, than any other conglomerate on the global media stage.
According to reports, other companies may opt to jump in, with NBCUniversal’s parent company Comcast said to be considering a move.
The deal is expected to close in 2022.
Speaking about the plans, Zaslav said: “It is super exciting to combine such historic brands, world class journalism and iconic franchises under one roof and unlock so much value and opportunity. With a library of cherished IP, dynamite management teams and global expertise in every market in the world, we believe everyone wins…consumers with more diverse choices, talent and storytellers with more resources and compelling pathways to larger audiences, and shareholders with a globally scaled growth company committed to a strong balance sheet that is better positioned to compete with the world’s largest streamers.
“We will build a new chapter together with the creative and talented WarnerMedia team and these incredible assets built on a nearly 100-year legacy of the most wonderful storytelling in the world. That will be our singular mission: to focus on telling the most amazing stories and have a ton of fun doing it.”