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Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global in Early Talks for Mega Merger

The proposed deal aims to combine two of Hollywood’s “Big Five” studios, boasting a combined market value of $38bn.

Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global are reportedly engaged in early talks to merge, marking a potential consolidation in the media landscape. The merger would bring together the owner of HBO channels and CNN, Warner Bros Discovery, with the studio behind iconic franchises like Mission Impossible and CBS News, Paramount Global.

According to multiple media reports, discussions between Warner Bros Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav and Paramount Chief Bob Bakish took place over lunch in New York this week. While the talks are in their infancy, sources caution that a deal is not guaranteed, and negotiations are at an early stage, as reported by the Financial Times.

The proposed deal aims to combine two of Hollywood’s “Big Five” studios, boasting a combined market value of $38 billion (£30 billion). Both companies, grappling with the shift to streaming platforms, are exploring synergies in merging their main streaming services, Paramount Plus and Max (formerly HBO Max), to enhance competitiveness against industry giants like Netflix and Disney Plus.

The rise of streaming services has forced traditional media companies like Warner and Paramount to adapt swiftly to changing consumer preferences. Both studios have faced significant financial challenges, resulting in substantial cost-cutting measures and a struggle to recoup losses incurred in the competitive streaming market.

Paramount, particularly burdened with high levels of debt from recent streaming service investments, is reportedly under pressure to secure a buyer or strategic partner. In contrast, analysts suggest that Warner has a relatively better cash position, attributed in part to strategic mergers.

Last year, AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit and Discovery merged to form Warner Bros Discovery, creating a formidable portfolio that includes Discovery Channel, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, and iconic franchises like Batman and Harry Potter.

Media reports indicate that the industry may witness more consolidation, driven by the dominance of streaming giants like Netflix and the need for traditional media companies to stay competitive.

Netflix’s staggering growth, with an addition of 5.9 million paid subscriptions worldwide between March and June 2023 and 8.8 million from July to September, underscores the challenges faced by competitors. Paramount Plus reports a total of 63.4 million subscribers, while Warner Bros Discovery boasts 95 million as of November 2023.

As talks progress, the potential merger between Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global could reshape the entertainment landscape, providing the merged entity with enhanced resources and capabilities to navigate the evolving streaming industry. The outcome of these discussions will undoubtedly be closely monitored by industry stakeholders and enthusiasts alike.

Kiki Garba

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