AT&T announced this week that they would accept an aggregate offer of “$43 billion in a combination of cash, debt and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt” in order to merge their WarnerMedia unit with Discovery Networks.
The merger will create a new entity separate from the telecom giant valued at nearly $150 billion (a figure which including all of Warner’s noteworthy debts), which sounds as if it will be overseen by Discovery and their people.
AT&T shareholders shall own a greater chunk of the new entity at 71 percent, compared to Discovery’s projected 29 percent, while Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav is set to become the new head honcho of the operation – over and above Warner executives.
“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,” Zaslav said to CNBC.
He added the two companies “are better and more valuable together” in their new mission to tell “the most amazing stories and have a ton of fun doing it.”
AT&T chief executive John Stankey shares Zaslav’s enthusiasm, telling the BBC, “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.”
Stankey continued, “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.”
The whole point of this move, say some analysts, is to further prop up HBO Max as a true titan in the streaming wars.
“This is a streaming arms race and AT&T is making an offensive strategic move to further bulk up its content in the battle versus Netflix, Disney, and Amazon,” said Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.
If they can pull off their endgame, that’d be good news for AT&T, WarnerMedia, Discovery, and HBO Max, but it might not be sunshine and rainbows for everyone in the boardroom.
Current WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar might be out of a job after Zaslav assumes his new post, as reportedly it is completely up to him if Kilar stays or not.
And Kilar is just one domino that could fall as a result of a massive executive shakeup that might also have some serious and favorable ramifications regarding the continuation of the Snyderverse.
According to Mikey Sutton of Geekosity, Zaslav may cull the herd of Kilar, Ann Sarnoff, Toby Emmerich, and Walter Hamada, thus paving the way for a new regime and possibly a return to prominence for Zack Snyder’s vision of the DC Universe.
Nothing is guaranteed, though a previous scoop by Sutton reported that Emmerich might be looking for work elsewhere. This alleged intel, Sutton now remarks, is noteworthy in light of this new context.
Meanwhile, Sarnoff is on record sharing her view that the Snyderverse is history, while Hamada is currently leading DC Films as it heads in a new creative direction set to facilitate the introduction of a Black Superman via Earth-2 and the Multiverse.
Neither of them are pegged as Snyder Cut supporters, but unfortunately for their jobs, that may be where the money is for HBO Max – especially when one factors in the positive reports regarding the numbers Zack Snyder’s Justice League pulled in on the platform.
AT&T could follow that money train, turn it into a time machine like Doc in Back to the Future 3, and make it feel like 2016 again – when Henry Cavill’s future as Supes wasn’t in question. But with ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal moving to challenge the merger, we’ll just have to wait and see.
It’s a strange chain of events for sure, rumor or no. However, personally, the thing that mystifies me most about this merger is it brings us closer to the world of Idiocracy’s bizarre mega-mergers becoming a reality. Hopefully they draw a line before the year 3000 and accidentally validating Mike Judge as a prophet.
What do you make of Geekosity’s theory? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!