Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount in merger talks


Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery have entered talks to potentially merge, multiple outlets reported on Wednesday, as the two media behemoths look to compete with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Disney as the streaming wars continue to escalate.
WarnerMedia - Discovery

The heads of Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly discussed ways to combine their streaming services.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Key Takeaways
  • Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav met in New York City on Tuesday with Bob Bakish, the CEO of Paramount Global, as well as Shari Redstone, the CEO of National Amusements, which owns a majority stake in Paramount Global, Axios and Variety reported.
  • While terms of a merger have not been agreed upon, Zaslav and Bakish have reportedly discussed ways to combine the two conglomerates’ streaming services, Max and Paramount+, as the companies compete with Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.
  • Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment on the reports, while Paramount did not respond to Forbes’ request for confirmation.
  • The reported talks come just over a year after both Paramount and Warner Bros. implemented separate mergers to their streaming services, with Paramount+ adding Showtime to its app last August and Warner Bros. announcing plans to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ that same month (Warner Bros. rebranded its app to Max in April).
  • Shares of Warner Bros. Discovery took a nosedive on the news, falling 5.7% to close at $11.66, while shares of Paramount Global dipped just over 2% on the day to close at $15.50.

Surging competition among streaming services in the so-called streaming wars has also prompted those companies to carry out multiple rounds of price hikes in recent months, while some have cracked down on account sharing, a loophole customers have long turned to in efforts to save money. After scrapping its cheapest ad-free plan in July, Netflix—which previously swore off price hikes—increased the price of its premium plan by $3 per month to $22.99 in October, and raised its basic plan by $2 to $11.99 per month. Hulu also raised its rates to $17.99 for its ad-free plan and $7.99 for its plan with ads. Max, meanwhile, raised the price of its ad-free plan by $1 to $15.99 in January, while it offers an “Ultimate” ad-free plan for $19.99 per month. Paramount+ in March raised its ad-free plan by $2 to $11.99, and its plan with ads by $1 per month to $5.99.


In a separate bid to drive customers from cable to streaming, Max, in October, introduced live sports to its catalog, becoming the latest streaming service to adapt to live sports programming, joining YouTube, Hulu and NFL+. Warner Bros. streaming sports feature, called the B/R (Bleacher Report) Sports Add-On, includes more than 300 live games per year, including NBA, NHL and NCAA Division I men’s basketball. Disney, which owns ABC and sports giant ESPN, is also in talks to bring live sports to Disney+.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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