What the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger means for streaming

Have the streaming wars just landed a new heavyweight?

Earlier this week, AT&T announced a deal to combine its content powerhouse WarnerMedia with Discovery for a whopping $43 billion. The announcement, made on Monday, sent shockwaves through media circles due to the potential it could bring for consumers — and how it creates big competition for streaming giants like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.

Here’s the rundown on what to expect from the Discovery and WarnerMedia merger.

Game of Thrones, Bugs Bunny, and more…

If you thought Disney housing Marvel and the Star Wars franchise was a big deal, the WarnerMedia and Discovery courtship packs even a bit more.

The merger brings the best of Discovery and WarnerMedia all under one roof. That means HBO’s blockbuster shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Succession,” and many others, the best of Warner Bros., Food Network’s tasty programming, and even cartoons for the kids via Cartoon Network.

AT&T announced Monday that the “pure play” content company will offer one of the “deepest libraries in the world with nearly 200,000 hours of iconic programming,” which includes:

  • HBO
  • Warner Bros.
  • Discovery
  • DC Comics
  • CNN
  • Cartoon Network
  • HGTV
  • Food Network
  • The Turner Networks
  • TNT
  • TBS
  • Eurosport
  • Magnolia
  • TLC
  • Animal Planet
  • ID

What all those programs bring is a universal look at entertainment that cannot be matched by others, according to The Ringer.

Netflix has made strides in reality television but lacks sports. Disney covers kids with animation—and even has Hulu and ESPN+ in its empire—but is short on reality series. Amazon is establishing itself as a respectable film and television distributor but doesn’t do news.

When to expect to start watching?

As of now, there’s no timeline. Nor has a name been given to the new media company. The deal is expected to close in 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The magnitude of how much content could be available also creates a money question. While it remains unknown how the content will be packaged, Discovery CEO David Zaslav isn’t sweating it.

“We have plenty of time to figure it out,” he said on CNBC about the bundle.

Other streaming services have hiked prices over the past year. Netflix raised the cost for its US subscribers late 2020 when it increased its standard plan to $14 a month and premium to $18. Disney+ upped its subscription price by a $1 earlier this year.

HBO Max currently costs $14.99 a month and Discovery+ is $4.99 a month. It’s unclear how those subscription services will be packaged together, if they are, but Zaslav didn’t rule out the possibility.

Via The Ringer:

During a conference call on Monday, he didn’t rule out merging Discovery+ and HBO Max into a giant streaming service. Or, he said, the two might exist separately, but bundled together—sort of like what Disney+ does with Hulu and ESPN+. Either way, the new company’s brands will exist symbiotically—and that will appeal greatly to consumers.

Zaslav told CNN that the Discovery and WarnerMedia merger makes them the best company in the world together.

“We’re positioned to get 200 million homes, 300 million homes because we have all the content that people love. I think coming together, we’re not just better together I think we’re the best media company in the world together,” he said. “This rejigger puts us on a path to give us every opportunity on the media side to be a real force.”