AT&T and WarnerMedia: A Merger Revisited (2023)

In a surprising turn of events, AT&T, one of the world's largest phone companies, is seeking to undo its acquisition of WarnerMedia, the media conglomerate that owns HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros. movie studio. Instead, AT&T plans to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc., the cable TV programmer behind popular channels like Food Network and HGTV [[SOURCE 1]].

This move highlights the ongoing disruption in the media industry, as traditional players strive to keep pace with the rise of tech giants. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of merging non-media companies with media companies, as AT&T's previous merger with TimeWarner failed to deliver the desired results [[SOURCE 1]].

The Motivation Behind the Merger

AT&T's initial acquisition of TimeWarner in 2016 was a bold move, costing over $100 billion. However, the merger did not yield the expected benefits for either company. AT&T's wireless and broadband plans did not see a significant boost, and TimeWarner struggled to compete against streaming giants like Netflix [[SOURCE 1]].

Now, AT&T aims to unmerge with WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery Inc., a move that could potentially create synergies and help both companies navigate the competitive streaming video subscription market [[SOURCE 1]].

The Potential Benefits

Combining WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. could offer several advantages. For WarnerMedia, it provides an opportunity to strengthen its position in the streaming market and compete with industry leaders like Netflix and Disney. The merger could also lead to cost savings by streamlining operations and consolidating resources [[SOURCE 1]].

Both companies have their own streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery+, which cater to different content preferences. While HBO Max offers a mix of HBO shows, WarnerMedia movies, and additional content, Discovery+ focuses on reality TV shows. Bringing these services together under one roof could enhance efficiency and potentially lead to a merged version in the future [[SOURCE 1]].

Moreover, WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. both have significant cable TV operations, such as CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, the Travel Channel, and Animal Planet. Although these businesses are experiencing a decline, they still reach millions of viewers and generate substantial revenue. By combining the backroom operations of these networks, the merged company could achieve further cost savings [[SOURCE 1]].

The Market Perspective

From a market perspective, investors have traditionally valued AT&T as a phone company rather than a streaming video company. However, the merger with Discovery Inc. could change this perception and potentially increase the value of the new company. This shift aligns with the growing interest in streaming video companies like Netflix and Disney, which have demonstrated strong market performance [[SOURCE 1]].

Regulatory Considerations

While the proposed merger between AT&T and Discovery Inc. shows promise, it is not without potential challenges. Regulators around the world are increasingly scrutinizing large-scale mergers and acquisitions, particularly when they involve major players in the media industry. AT&T faced regulatory hurdles during its previous merger with TimeWarner, which some believe were influenced by political factors. The new merger will require AT&T and Discovery Inc. to address concerns about reduced choice and potential price increases for consumers [[SOURCE 1]].


In summary, AT&T's decision to unmerge with WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery Inc. reflects the dynamic nature of the media industry. The merger aims to strengthen WarnerMedia's position in the streaming market, achieve cost savings through operational efficiencies, and potentially increase the value of the new company. However, regulatory scrutiny and the evolving landscape of the media industry will play a significant role in determining the success of this merger [[SOURCE 1]].

Note: This article is intended to provide an overview of the AT&T and WarnerMedia merger and does not constitute financial or investment advice.


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