US telecoms giant AT&T is reportedly close to striking a deal with Discovery that would create a $150 billion streaming giant.
A tie-up would bring one of Hollywood’s biggest studios and Discovery’s channels under the same ownership. AT&T owns CNN, HBO and Warner Bros, after acquiring many brands in a $108.7 billion purchase of Time Warner in 2018.
The streaming race
The deal would mark the entry of another player into a crowded market. “This is a streaming arms race and AT&T is making an offensive strategic move to further bulk up its content in the battle versus Netflix, Disney, and Amazon,” experts said. “The Time Warner acquisition and the golden jewel HBO asset was the first step with Discovery – a doubling down on this streaming endeavor,” they added.
However, analysts predict shareholders may be uneasy about the deal. They agreed that AT&T, in the face of huge streaming competition, needed to increase its amount of content, but added that “The market might feel this deal is a bit too late, we expect the market might be a little skeptical.”
The merger would create a new business that would be separate from AT&T and could be valued at $150 billion, including debt, according to reports. Discovery’s market value, including debt, currently stands at around $30 billion.
Making a media powerhouse
The proposed deal would put together movie-making powerhouse Warner Bros. Entertainment, which is home to the Harry Potter and Batman franchises, and Discovery’s range of unscripted home, cooking, nature and science shows.
WarnerMedia-owned HBO and HBO Max now have around 64 million subscribers worldwide. It is currently dwarfed by larger rivals Netflix, which has 208 million subscribers, and Disney+, which has more than 100 million.
Discovery, whose portfolio includes Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, reaches more than 88 million US homes, while its Discovery+ streaming service, which launched in January, has 15 million subscribers.
AT&T is the world’s largest telecoms company in the world by revenues. It was established in 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell, who obtained the first US patent for the telephone.
Discovery Channel, the American multinational pay television network and flagship channel, is owned by Discovery Inc., a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. It was founded in 1985 by John Hendricks.