AT&T and Discovery are in talks that would combine AT&T’s media business with Discovery’s reality-TV dynasty to create a massive new entertainment entity, Bloomberg reports, citing sources. The Los Angeles Times corroborated the story, noting that “many Warner Media executives were stunned by the news.” Neither company confirmed the deal, but if it came to pass, the combined company would be a potentially significant competitor for streaming brands like Netflix and Disney.
But as Bloomberg notes, AT&T only recently added some major entertainment brands to its portfolio when it acquired Time Warner for $85 billion, a deal that was finalized in 2018. And while AT&T’s streaming channel HBO Max has performed relatively well since its somewhat messy launch last May, it’s still not quite as robust as older streamers like Netflix. In January, Discovery launched its own streaming platform Discovery Plus, which launched with shows spun off from its Discovery Channel catalog, including a new House Hunters series and new series from the creators of Fixer Upper.
AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit owns cable channels CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, and the Warner Bros. movie studio. Discovery’s offerings include cable networks HGTV, Food Network, and TLC. But as more people migrate away from traditional cable TV and to streaming options, most media companies are trying to find new ways to reach audiences.
Bloomberg’s sources indicated a deal could be announced as early as this week.
Update, Sunday May 16th, 9:15PM ET: Added mention of the LA Times’ corroborating report.