In a move that will rival media giants Disney and Netflix, AT&T Inc. and Discovery, Inc. today announced a definitive agreement to combine WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery’s leading nonfiction and international entertainment and sports businesses to create a premier, standalone global entertainment company.
The “pure play” content company will own one of the deepest libraries in the world with nearly 200,000 hours of iconic programming and will bring together over 100 of the most cherished, popular and trusted brands in the world under one global portfolio, including: HBO, Warner Bros., Discovery, DC Comics, CNN, Cartoon Network, HGTV, Food Network, the Turner Networks, TNT, TBS, Eurosport, Magnolia, TLC, Animal Planet, ID and many more.
Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav will lead the proposed new company with a best-in-class management team and top operational and creative leadership from both companies.
Zaslav said in a statement, “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.”
Watch the announcement video below:
The companies expect the transaction will create substantial value for AT&T and Discovery shareholders by:
- Bringing together the strongest leadership teams, content creators, and high-quality series and film libraries in the media business.
- Accelerating both companies’ plans for leading direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services for global consumers.
- Uniting complementary and diverse content strengths with broad appeal — WarnerMedia’s robust studios and portfolio of iconic scripted entertainment, animation, news and sports with Discovery’s global leadership in unscripted and international entertainment and sports.
- Forming a new company that will have significant scale and investment resources with projected 2023 Revenue of approximately $52 billion, adjusted EBITDA of approximately $14 billion, and an industry leading Free Cash Flow conversion rate of approximately 60%.
- Creating at least $3 billion in expected cost synergies annually for the new company to increase its investment in content and digital innovation, and to scale its global DTC business.
For AT&T and its shareholders, this transaction provides an opportunity to unlock value in its media assets and to better position the media business to take advantage of the attractive DTC trends in the industry. Additionally, the transaction allows the company to better capitalize on the longer-term demand for connectivity:
- AT&T shareholders participate in a leading media company with a broad global portfoli0 of brands, tremendous DTC potential and strengthened combined assets.
- Creates substantial value opportunity for AT&T shareholders through stepped-up investment in growth areas – mobile and fixed broadband.
- Capital structure improvement after closing will position AT&T as one of the best capitalized 5G and fiber broadband companies in the United States.
- Results in two independent companies – one broadband connectivity and the other media – to sharpen the investment focus and attract the best investor base for each company.
A Stronger Competitor in Global Streaming
The new company will compete globally in the fast-growing direct-to-consumer business — bringing compelling content to DTC subscribers across its portfolio, including HBO Max and the recently launched discovery+.
The transaction will combine WarnerMedia’s storied content library of popular and valuable IP with Discovery’s global footprint, trove of local-language content and deep regional expertise across more than 200 countries and territories.
The move also allow the new company to invest in more original content for its streaming services, enhance the programming options across its global linear pay TV and broadcast channels, and offer more innovative video experiences and consumer choices.
In a statement, AT&T CEO John Stankey said, “This agreement unites two entertainment leaders with complementary content strengths and positions the new company to be one of the leading global direct-to-consumer streaming platforms. It will support the fantastic growth and international launch of HBO Max with Discovery’s global footprint and create efficiencies which can be re-invested in producing more great content to give consumers what they want.”
Uniting Dynamic, Enduring and Historic Brands and Franchises
The new company will be able to increase investment and capabilities in original content and programming; create more opportunity for under-represented storytellers and independent creators; serve customers with innovative video experiences and points of engagement; and propel more investment in high-quality, family-friendly nonfiction content.
“For AT&T shareholders, this is an opportunity to unlock value and be one of the best capitalized broadband companies, focused on investing in 5G and fiber to meet substantial, long-term demand for connectivity. AT&T shareholders will retain their stake in our leading communications company that comes with an attractive dividend. Plus, they will get a stake in the new company, a global media leader that can build one of the top streaming platforms in the world,” adds Stankey.
“During my many conversations with John, we always come back to the same simple and powerful strategic principle: these assets are better and more valuable together. 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,” notes Zaslav.
The new company’s Board of Directors will consist of 13 members, 7 initially appointed by AT&T, including the chairperson of the board; Discovery will initially appoint 6 members, including Zaslav.
The transaction is anticipated to close in mid-2022, subject to approval by Discovery shareholders and customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.