The Battle of the Giants - WarnerMedia & Discovery’s Partnership. Who will go next?

Written by Michael Maximillian Moss
Co-founder & CEO at Nova A.I.

London, UK, (03 June 2021)

Imagine a superhero channel bigger than Netflix, which provided you with the widest variety of streaming content you could think of. From Sports to Game of Thrones and unscripted factual contentit could be a subscription entertainment company that would do it all.

Well, this fantasy may have become reality with AT&T’s recent announcement of their agreement to combine the iconic powerhouse WarnerMedia, with the equally iconic and hugely influential Discovery entertainment company. The new name for the combined company is pretty straight forward: Warner Bros. Discovery.

The collaboration has caused widespread mania across the board, with claims this partnership signals the creation of a ‘media giant’ (CNN) and ‘monster under the hood’ by bringing together compelling content to DTC subscribers across its portfolio, including HBO Max and the recently launched Discovery+.

The dynamic duo will be able to invest in more original content for its streaming services, enhance the programming options across its global linear pay TV and broadcast channels, and offer more innovative video experiences and consumer choices. Currently, WarnerMedia houses a profile of leading entertainment, news and sports brands, as well as being home to the infamous Hollywood studios, and is used by millions across the world. Conversely, Discovery primarily consists of a group of factual and lifestyle television brands, responsible for creating a plethora of highly addictive unscripted entertainment, including the likes of ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’, but also scripted gold like ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Planet Earth’.

There are mumerings the deal is capable of competing with Netflix and Disney. President of Discovery, Zaslav, announced the two entertainment platforms ‘fit together like a glove’, and that by coming together, he believes they will become the ‘best media company in the world’, offering consumers a ‘one-stop-shop’, with importantly no need to purchase any further premium channel. The content company will own one of the most extensive libraries in the world, with nearly 200,000 hours of iconic programming, and bring together over 100 of the most popular and trusted brands in the world under one portfolio.

As with any merger of this size, a number of concerns have been raised across the board, particularly with regards to the consequential domino effect the partnership will have across the streaming industry as we know it. With Zaslav voicing the deal will invoke billions of 'cost efficiencies', this raises real unease over the predicted jobs lost over the deal. Smaller entertainment companies such as NBC and ViaComCBS are likely to be at risk, as consumers are expected to drop subscriptions to their current streaming services, and switch to this new ‘giant’ platform - a switch which will save them buying a number of subscriptions to premium channels by giving them exactly what they need under one roof, signifying a smart move from WarnerMedia and Discovery.  Importantly, it is predicted smaller streaming players will now scramble to merge with others, in order to compete effectively to this scale. What does this mean?

Well, this could signal an end to many independent, smaller players who aren’t able to merge (or dont want to), and therefore unable to survive within a predicted ‘war time’ of streaming chaos as large corporations gobble up smaller ones in a means to survive.

However, the new giant company claims it will be able to ‘increase investment and capabilities in original content and programming’, crucially creating more opportunities for ‘under-represented storytellers and independent creators’. Meaning, consumers will be provided with ever-more state-of-the-art video experiences, with more investment in razor-sharp, quality streaming content.

It is clear that the global market is only able to support no more than four to five big players, meaning that streamers across the board need to have a constant flood of shows and movies so appealing, viewers never want to quit them. Is the future really “merge and grow or go extinct”? As we are learning fast, anything can happen in the streaming world.

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