Shareholders approve WarnerMedia-Discovery union

Discovery shareholders have given the OK to proceed with its merger with AT&T’s WarnerMedia.

The approval was largely expected given that major shareholders had already spoken publicly about their approval of the deal, which is valued at $43 billion and structured as a spinoff of WarnerMedia by AT&T.

The merger will see WarnerMedia’s vast entertainment, news and sports brands that include Warner Bros. Studios brands, CNN, HBO and Turner Sports combined with Discovery’s portfolio of content providers, including HGTV, Discovery Channel, Food Network, OWN and others.

The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

Also included in the deal are HBO Max, the existing WarnerMedia mega-streamer, and the upcoming CNN+ streaming service set for a March 29, 2022 launch. Discovery also has its own streaming platform, Discovery+, and executives have hinted they may be looking to combine the three at some point in the future.

Discovery CEO Davis Zaslav will lead the new combined company, which will be called Warner Bros. Discovery.

The merger was announced in May 2021 and the companies released a “teaser” logo in June 2021 featuring the classic Warner Bros. sky and 3D gold motif.

The new company will have a combined total of nearly 200,000 hours of content that continues to grow. In addition to the brands named above, other big names in the deal include TNT, TBS, Eurosport, Magnolia Network, Turner Classic Movies, Animal Planet and Cartoon Network.

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WarnerMedia was created after AT&T bought TimeWarner for $83 billion in 2018.

The move was similar to one made by fellow telecom giant Verizon, which had acquired Yahoo! for $4.83 billion in 2016, part of a strategy that looked to blend content businesses with the companies’ existing internet connectivity and broadband divisions.

Verizon had bought a previous incarnation of Yahoo! in 2017 and AOL in 2015 and would eventually combine many of those assets into a division called Oath, later to be called Verizon Media.

The strategy never quite reached its full potential for either AT&T and Verizon. Verizon sold off most of its stake in what remained of Verizon Media to Apollo Global Management in 2021, when it reverted back to the Yahoo! name.

AT&T and Verizon have also entered the pay TV market by using existing and new infrastructure to offer fiber and IPTV services under the Uverse, AT&T TV, DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fios names. AT&T spun off its TV businesses, including DirecTV, in 2021, having grown it to 16.5 million subscribers.

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