AT&T Earnings: WarnerMedia 4Q Revenue Just Shy Of $10B
What should be the final year of AT&T’s WarnerMedia ownership concluded in December. The fourth quarter itself was a strong one, with WarnerMedia drawing $9.9 billion in revenue, which was up 15.4%. Wall Street forecast 4Q earnings per share of 76 cents on $40.43 billion in revenue, according to a consensus compiled by Yahoo Finance. Today, AT&T reported adjusted EPS of 78 cents on $41 billion in revenue.
AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday each agreed to temporarily delay their 5G rollouts near certain airports amid concerns over possible flight disruptions. The move follows mounting outside pressure and comes amid warnings from U.S. airlines that new 5G wireless service that was set to start Wednesday could ground flights and leave potentially thousands of Americans stranded while also delaying goods.
One America News Network has declared war against AT&T’s DirecTV and its board chairman, former FCC Chairman Bill Kennard, following the distributor’s decision to drop the channel from its lineup in April. Dan Ball, host of OAN’s Real America, slammed AT&T on his show Jan. 17, but went beyond that to say that OAN was launching a campaign against the distributor and asking his viewers to dig up dirt on Kennard, which he said he would “love to see” and report.
AT&T and Verizon Communications said late Monday (Jan. 3) that the companies will delay their planned Jan. 5 rollout of 5G wireless service in the C-band, at least briefly, at the request of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (above). The secretary had asked for a two-week delay to try and resolve issues of possible interference with radio altimeters that use the adjacent ban.
AT&T today said it’s agreed to sell its global programmatic advertising marketplace, Xandr to Microsoft. It said the agreement builds on a decade-long relationship between Xandr, including its predecessor companies, and Microsoft in the sector.
AT&T and Verizon will delay the launch of 5G on key frequencies amid concern that it might interfere with airplane safety systems, federal officials said Thursday. The companies will “further assess any impact on aviation safety technologies,” the FCC and Federal Aviation Administration said in a joint statement. Both companies confirmed they will delay their rollouts for about a month, to Jan. 5.
HBO Max and HBO have a combined 45.2 million U.S. subscribers, AT&T revealed in its 3Q earnings report Thursday. That’s down from the 47 million combined subs the WarnerMedia parent company reported for its premium cable channel and streaming service at the end of 2Q, and a loss the company saw coming after removing the HBO subscription option from Amazon Channels. But globally, the services have topped 69 million customers.
As it lauded former President Donald Trump and spread his unfounded claims of election fraud, One America News Network saw its viewership jump. Reuters has uncovered how America’s telecom giant nurtured the news channel now at the center of a bitter national divide over politics and truth.
AT&T CEO John Stankey said the decision to spin off WarnerMedia — and merge it with Discovery — came down to his belief that investors have undervalued the media division under the telco’s ownership.
AT&T no longer owns DirecTV but it has agreed to pay up to $2.1 billion for losses resulting from its NFL Sunday Ticket contract. AT&T agreed to spin off its pay TV businesses to TPG in a deal valued at $15 billion in February. The deal closed in August. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AT&T described how it was treating some aspects of the separation from a financial and accounting perspective.
AT&T is in talks to sell WarnerMedia’s celebrity gossip site TMZ to Fox in yet another deal paring down the telco’s entertainment assets, one that comes as it prepares to spin off Warner and merge it with Discovery.
AT&T moves further away from the video biz with the divestment of the thriving anime-focused niche SVOD service.
AT&T has completed the spinoff of DirecTV into a new entity part-owned by private equity firm TPG, capping a costly six-year adventure in the satellite TV business. The new entity, whose financials will no longer be included on the AT&T balance sheet, unveiled new branding and a new home for its internet-delivered TV packages. Later this month, DirecTV Stream will become the umbrella for streaming offerings like the one formerly known as AT&T TV Now (originally DirecTV Now).
HBO and HBO Max added 2.8 million subscribers in the second quarter, reaching 47 million in the U.S. and helping parent AT&T beat Wall Street forecasts. Total AT&T revenue of $44 billion rose almost 8% from the year-earlier period and topped analysts’ consensus estimate of $42.6 billion. Earnings per share went up 7% to 89 cents, well ahead of analysts’ outlook of 79 cents.
AT&T is selling $6.2 billion worth of DirecTV Holdings debt in order to finance the spinoff of its linear pay TV assets. The telecom is selling $3.1 billion of six-year secured bonds (aka junk bonds) that are set to price Thursday and may yield around 6% to 6.5%.
The FCC has approved AT&T’s spin-off of its traditional video distribution business as it moves toward streaming (HBO Max) as its video play of choice, citing the parties’ undisputed claim that the New DirecTV company that will result would be stronger because it could focus on traditional video. The FCC will not require the New DirecTV to deliver local TV station signals to the 12 smallest markets, as the broadcast affiliate associations had asked. It also declined to apply any program carriage conditions on the deal.
A Florida-based real estate company has purchased the iconic CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, but its current occupants are staying put. AT&T, which owns CNN as a result of its 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, will lease the building from its new owners for a “a number of years.” The deal comes as AT&T prepares to spin off WarnerMedia, whose holdings include CNN, and combine it with Discovery and its stable of networks.
Less than a month after it basically severed the last arm of its previous content-centric future strategy, AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh said the phone giant has “historically been complicated. It’s hard to understand AT&T’s future. Well, maybe I can clear it up here. We intend to be the nation’s premier broadband connectivity provider, period.”
An abrupt landing to a turbulent trip comes with a familiar message: Buying into the content business is hard
Bankers are already starting to salivate over what other megadeals could be in the offing following this week’s surprise pair-up of WarnerMedia and Discovery. AT&T’s desperation to drop a company that it spent $85.4 billion and a year and half in legal fights to acquire raises the immediate question of what else might be possible in an era when Wall Street is pressuring big media conglomerates to keep generating content for audiences hungry to stream their favorite dramas and comedies. (Illustration: Cheyne Gateley for Variety)
Makan Delrahim, DOJ Antitrust Chief Who Challenged AT&T-Time Warner Merger, Takes Different View Of WarnerMedia Spinoff
Makan Delrahim, who as the Justice Department’s antitrust chief during Donald Trump’s administration challenged AT&T’s combination with Time Warner, has a different view of the planned spinoff of WarnerMedia. “I wish both companies and Mr. Zaslav and Mr. Stankey the best,” Delrahim said, referring to David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery, and John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T.
Sources say Jeff Zucker may drop his plan to leave CNN at year’s end and instead remain head of the network, as a result of the massive merger of AT&T-Discovery media assets announced Monday morning. Driving the news: Nothing has been decided. But absent this tectonic media shift, Zucker — who’s chairman, WarnerMedia News and Sports, and president of CNN Worldwide — was gone. Now, the door is open for him to stay.
AT&T and Discovery Monday announced a definitive agreement to combine WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery’s leading nonfiction and international entertainment and sports businesses to create a premier, standalone global entertainment company led by Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Under the terms of the agreement, which is structured as an all-stock transaction, AT&T would receive $43 billion in a combination of cash, debt securities, and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt, and AT&T’s shareholders would receive stock representing 71% of the new company; Discovery shareholders would own 29% of the new company.
The conglomerates, whose biggest financial contributors are telecom assets, continue to bet on the benefits of owning content and distribution businesses, but “pure-play” companies have gained investor favor.
AT&T says it will discontinue its controversial “Data Free TV” program, which exempted some video streams from subscribers’ data caps, as a result of the recent court ruling upholding California’s net neutrality law. That state law, passed in 2018, prohibits carriers from blocking or throttling service, charging higher fees for prioritized delivery, and from exempting their own content from subscribers’ data caps.
AT&T has set June for the launch of its ad-supported HBO Max option. The WarnerMedia parent company also updated its subscriber forecasts. They’re now much higher. The company now expects 120-150 million worldwide HBO Max and HBO subscribers by the end of 2025.
AT&T will spin off its video business including DirecTV into a new company in a deal with TPG, which acquired 30% of the new company. The agreement values the forthcoming company, known as New DirecTV, at $16.25 billion. Under the terms of the transaction, New DirecTV will be jointly governed by a board with two representatives from each of AT&T and TPG, as well as a fifth seat for the CEO, which at closing will be Bill Morrow, CEO of AT&T’s U.S. video unit. Following the close of the transaction, AT&T will own 70% of the common equity and TPG will own 30%.
AT&T is nearing a $15 billion deal to sell a substantial minority stake in its DirecTV, AT&T TV Now and U-Verse business to private equity firm TPG, according to people familiar with the matter. A deal could be announced as soon as this week, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.
The multiyear deal covers 26 Cox Media Group-owned stations in 20 markets across DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse video services.
The former AT&T chairman and CEO moves closer to his final exit from the telco giant with a one year, $1 million consultancy deal.
Private equity firm TPG has entered into exclusive talks to acquire a minority stake in AT&T’s satellite TV division, DirecTV, in a deal that would allow the U.S. wireless carrier to trim its net debt of close to $150 billion, people familiar with the matter say.
AT&T’s Reluctance To Sell DirecTV Is A Red Flag
AT&T should take the lowball offer, streamline its business and learn from its mistakes.
AT&T’s attempt to unload DirecTV has been thrown into doubt, as the telecom giant has signaled it’s unhappy with the offers it has received for the struggling satellite TV service. Earlier this month, AT&T pushed back a deadline for final bids for DirecTV into January — and told prospective bidders it may cancel the auction altogether if it doesn’t get better offers, according to sources close to the situation.
The multi-year deal covers 64 Tegna-owned Stations in 51 markets across the DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse video services.
Fuse Media has filed a complaint with the FCC charging that AT&T and its DirecTV unit are illegally discriminating against it in carriage negotiations and that AT&T’s behavior could drive Fuse into bankruptcy.