AT&T is seeking to combine its media assets with Discovery Inc. to create a new media giant. The plans could include parts of the WarnerMedia division now owned by AT&T, including CNN, TNT and TBS. AT&T has a market value of about $230 billion, while Discovery is worth around $24 billion. It is expected that AT&T would control the majority of the combined entity, if the proposed combination goes ahead.
The move comes three years after AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner for $85 billion, rebranding it as WarnerMedia.
John Stankey, who became chief executive of WarnerMedia in 2018 and chief executive of AT&T in 2020, has said that he would treat no asset as sacred, although he said the company remains committed to HBO Max.
It is understood that he previously discussed combining programming with Discovery to create an online service, but the plan was dropped when Disney revealed its plans for Disney+.
Instead, AT&T concentrated on combining HBO with other WarnerMedia programming in the form of HBO Max, which had gained nearly 10 million subscribers by the end of March 2021.
Meanwhile, Discovery launched its online video service discovery+. Discovery reported in April that it had reached 15 million subscribers across its online video portfolio globally.
However, both companies are facing bigger competition in the form of Netflix, with over 200 million subscribers, and Disney+ with over 100 million.
AT&T lost another 620,000 premium video subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 as it proceeds in a deal with TPG to spin off its DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV units into a new company called DirecTV. It will have 15.89 million subscribers, down from 24.08 million at the start of 2018.