The streaming services wars are in full swing, and US telecoms giant AT&T are investing heavily in competing with streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.
WarnerMedia, home of HBO and HBO Max, will be merging with probably the biggest name in non-fiction, science and nature content, Discovery.
AT&T-owned WarnerMedia and Discovery have officially entered into an agreement to combine their assets, forming a new company that will allow them to compete more aggressively in the streaming market. The merger of the two media giants will then allow customers to access a library of nearly 200,000 hours of programming from over 100 brands, including:
AT&T, a long-time major player in the US telecoms market, acquired CNN, HBO and Warner Bros in 2018 when it took over Time Warner for $108.7bn (£77.1bn). Warner Bros and HBO have both been big names in the world of streaming, with TV and movies rights shifting between streaming platforms before finally settling in HBO Max as it attempts to grab subscribers from the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus.
HBO and HBO Max currently have roughly 64 million subscribers worldwide, an impressive number when not compared to Netflix’s 208 million subscribers and Disney Plus with over 100 million subscribers.
Discovery Plus, which just launched in January 2021, has an additional 15 million subscribers. But the brand as a whole, which includes well-known channels, such as Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, reaches more than 88 million US homes.
This isn’t the first time a streaming service has successfully combined entertainment and movie franchises with non-fiction content. Disney Plus followed the same formula, combining its extensive collection of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars franchises with access to content from National Geographic.
The AT&T/Discovery merger could see titles like Harry Potter and Batman appearing alongside home, cooking, nature and science content, all on one platform.
AT&T chief executive John Stankey said, "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.
"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 deal is still subject to approval by regulators. But if it all goes ahead, the companies have said they expect everything to be finalised by the middle of 2022.
In the UK, WarnerMedia HBO content is exclusively available on Sky and NOW, a deal that remains firmly in place and has effectively kept HBO Max from becoming available for UK customers. It remains to be seen if this new deal with Discovery will affect this exclusive arrangement with Sky and NOW.
Watch all the latest WarnerMedia content exclusively on Sky or NOW.