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Warner Discovery Merger Closes: What Comes Next

The long-anticipated Warner/Discovery has been finalized, shaking up the streaming landscape. What will change and should Netflix and Disney be worried?

Warner Bros. Discovery

After being in the works for nearly a year, on Friday, April 8th, 2022, a new media giant was created as a result of the finalization of the Warner Discovery merger. The new company will definitely impact the overall film, content, cable, and streaming landscape. 

To give you an idea of how big Warner/Discovery is, here is what each brand brings to the table. 

Warner Media 

  • Warner Bros Studios
  • DC Films 
  • New Line Cinema
  • HBO/HBO Max
  • TBS
  • Turner Sports
  • TNT
  • TRuTv
  • Cartoon Network/Adult Swin
  • Rooster Teeth

Tip: WarnerMedia and Paramount jointly own the CW TV Network 

Discovery

  • Discovery+ Streaming Service
  • The Discovery Channel
  • HGTV
  • Food Network
  • TLC
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Travel Channel 
  • Turbo/Velocity
  • Animal Planet
  • Science Channel
  • OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)

Check out a full list of Warner and Discovery properties

You might think that Warner has the upper hand in terms of content, but the point is that with the two companies combined, Warner/Discovery is an “octopus” that has far-reaching tentacles into millions of households via cable, streaming, and local cinemas. 

With this merger, AT&T is also unloading properties that have been troublesome for them to run over the years and will be using the proceeds of Warner’s sale to Discovery to pay off a lot of debt ($156.2 billion as of Dec 2021). Unloading Warner relieves AT&T of $43 billion in debt, but that also means that Discovery now has that debt. 

What The Future May Hold

On the one hand, the Warner/Discovery merger creates a major force in the media landscape that could impact the market share of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney, provided all goes the way Discovery hopes. 

One thing to keep in mind is that aquisitions and mergers often result in a lot of realignment including reducing staff and selling off less profitable portions of the combined company.

In the short term, Warner Bros and DC are under the microscope for change as it is anticipated that some film release dates will be further delayed and assessment of what is going on at DC may result in some projects being canceled even if they are in production. 

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HBO/HBO Max has some significant content (such as Game of Thrones), but their streaming subscription numbers are not as high as anticipated at this point, so there may be some changes in both content and subscription prices to boost those numbers.   

Tip: It is being reported that HBO Max and Discovey+ will be combined into a single streaming service. No official timetable or subscription pricing has been announced. 

Another branch of Warner Media, CNN, is also under the microscope, with continued low ratings, credibility issues on some major stories, and the disappointing debut of CNN+, it could be sold off or at least be subject to a major overhaul.

Since Discovery is now in charge, Warner will be getting the most scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean Discovery’s own content and services are immune. There will probably be some examination of what is working and will work under the new structure and expansion or elimination of specific services is not out of the question. 

In addition to all the services and content, another factor will be availability. New contracts between Warner/Discovery and cable/satellite services for relevant properties may result in access changes in your geographical area, and negotiations with the streaming device and smart TV makers may result in some changes regarding availability on specific platforms (Roku, Fire TV, etc…)

Warner/Discovery vs Netflix, Amazon, and Disney

As to whether Warner/Discovery will impact Netflix and Disney negatively remains to be seen, but the new company definitely has access to and is able to provide a lot of content. 

Here is a look at worldwide streaming subscriber numbers for the top services:

  • Netflix: 221 million
  • Amazon Prime Video: 157 million
  • Disney+: 83 million
  • HBO/HBO Max: 74 million
  • Discovery +: 15 million

As you can see, Netflix is way ahead of the other streaming services in subscribers, but when you combine Discovery and HBO/HBO Max numbers, it is slightly ahead of Disney. If Warner/Discovery can significantly pull ahead of Disney, it will be a four-way race. 

How This May Affect Viewers

In the short term, there is nothing the average viewer of Warner/Discovery services and content can do but wait. As things settle in, watch for news and direct notices regarding the services you watch or subscribe to. 

This is definitely an ongoing story and any significant updates will be added to this article or posted in separate articles as the need arises.

NOTE: Warner Bros/Discovery will begin trading on stock exchanges Monday, April 11, 2022, under the ticker “WBD.” The corporate website is WBD.com

The Story Continues (8/5/2022)

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Warner/Discovery Merger Means Big Changes for HBO MAX: Warner/Discovery reveals a post-merger strategy that will bring changes to the HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services.

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