AT&T, in its Wall Street swan song as an entertainment entity, reported solid subscriber pickup for HBO Max and HBO for the first quarter of 2022 on Thursday. The now-divested WarnerMedia unit was again a drag on profitability because of continued investments in HBO Max and the launch of CNN+ — reflecting a key reason AT&T spun it off.
Discovery is cleaning house among the top ranks at WarnerMedia ahead of the close of the two companies’ merger, which is expected to occur on Friday, with six more executives shown the door on Wednesday, Variety has learned. According to a WarnerMedia spokesperson, the newly cut WarnerMedia players include: Jennifer Biry — chief financial officer; Jim Cummings — EVP, chief human resources officer; Tony Goncalves — EVP, chief revenue officer; Christy Haubegger — EVP, communications and chief inclusion officer; Jim Meza — EVP, general counsel, WarnerMedia; and Richard Tom — chief technology officer.
Ann Sarnoff, who has held a top film and TV studio role at WarnerMedia for nearly three years, is departing the company as it gets set to merge with Discovery. News of her exit spread quickly Tuesday. It will take effect upon the close of the $43 billion merger, which is something of a moving target but getting closer to becoming reality. Regulators will determine the exact timeline of when the transaction can be officially consummated, but indications are that it will happen Friday.
In an internal memo, Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia, announced to staff that he would be stepping down from his role this Friday ahead of his company’s merger with Discovery, which will become official this Friday. Kilar, who has been in this position for nearly two years, oversees a vast media empire, including CNN, HLN and Turner Sports.
CNN Plus will also likely be shut out of Google TV and Android TV on its first day. WarnerMedia said it’s working to expand distribution.
The former CNN primetime anchor alleged in an arbitration filing Wednesday that his career has suffered damages in excess of $125 million, and suggested CNN had allowed several of his one-time colleagues to violate standards and practices in a bid to keep viewership. The anchor also said his firing by CNN late last year cost him nearly $15 million in salary that he would have earned if he had served out his last contract.
Discovery investors voted in approval of the company’s $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia from AT&T to create Warner Bros. Discovery during a special meeting of stockholders on Friday, marking one of the final formal steps before the transaction can close. The deal, a spinoff of WarnerMedia from AT&T, is expected to be completed early in the second quarter, with insiders estimating between April 11 and 28. The merger has already received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the boards of directors of both AT&T and Discovery.
AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit will pause all new business in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said in a note to staff on Wednesday. It will cease television broadcasts in Russia, halt new content licensing deals and pause planned theatrical and game releases.
Investors piled into Discovery Inc.’s $30 billion U.S. investment-grade corporate bond deal on Wednesday to finance its mashup with AT&T’s WarnerMedia, a bullish sign for markets rattled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Jeff Zucker has finalized a deal with WarnerMedia over the former CNN chief’s sudden fall from grace last month. Details of the confidential package are obviously being kept close to the vest, but sources tell us Zucker made the decision several weeks ago to accept what had been put on the table by his old bosses at the time of his cable news exit. What we do know is that, if WarnerMedia keeps their side of the deal, in the next week to 10 days, Zucker will receive a one-time payment of around $10 million.
Rick Lewchuk, CNN’s SVP of marketing and brand standards, will continue to oversee news marketing efforts for the network in the wake of Gollust’s absence.
The sudden exit of Cable News Network President Jeff Zucker highlights his tensions with WarnerMedia’s chief, leaves talent frustrated.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar continued to be on the receiving end of pushback from CNN staffers on Monday over last week’s unexpected resignation of longtime network president Jeff Zucker. According to tweets from Washington Post reporter Jeremy Barr citing CNN staffers who attended a staff meeting with Kilar, the WarnerMedia CEO sidestepped pointed questions about why Zucker’s exit was described as a “resignation” when reports suggest that Zucker would face firing if he did not agree.
Inside the media giant, unease has been mounting: over the network’s corporate ownership, the firing of Chris Cuomo and a looming merger with Discovery.
CNN’s is about to undergo a corporate ownership change, launch a paid streaming service and replace its most popular on-air host at a time of slumping ratings. It became clear Thursday that Jeff Zucker’s exit after nine years as CNN’s leader was anything but voluntary.
A relationship with a colleague. A Chris Cuomo investigation. A sudden departure amid big changes. Untangling a messy circle that could get messier.
Jeff Zucker’s surprise resignation from CNN on Wednesday quickly triggered puzzled questions over just what led to his ouster after revelations of his relationship with Allison Gollust, EVP and chief marketing officer for CNN Worldwide. But the relationship itself is not what triggered WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s call to Zucker in recent days informing him that he had to exit or face termination. Rather, it was Zucker’s failure to disclose the relationship, in violation of WarnerMedia policy.
Michael Bass, Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz will serve as interim co-heads of CNN following the resignation of Jeff Zucker. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar indicated that the trio would lead the network on an interim basis through the close of the company’s merger with Discovery, which is expected in the spring or even earlier.
The company is picking a simpler method to complete its deal with Discovery that will make the transaction easier for individual investors to digest, but will still leave the telecom company with about 7.2 billion shares outstanding.
AT&T may be leaning toward a straightforward spinoff of the 71% stake in the new Warner Bros. Discovery in the coming months rather than a complex “split-off,” or exchange offer. A transaction in one of those forms will take place when AT&T merges its WarnerMedia business with Discovery.
The CW will joins the parade of TV networks returning to in-person upfronts, with a presentation slated for Thursday, May 19 in New York City. Time will tell whether the network will present as a joint venture of ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia or under the aegis of a new corporate owner.
AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Altice USA have reached a new long-term renewal of their distribution agreement, sources familiar with the situation said. The agreement covers the former Turner cable networks including TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and truTV. Financial details were not disclosed.
The CW Network’s Chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz assured the staff at the younger-skewing network Thursday that it’s “too early to speculate what might happen” as joint-parent companies ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia explore a sale of the broadcast network to Nexstar Media Group.
AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are exploring a possible sale of a significant stake or all of the CW Network, which they jointly own, according to people familiar with the matter. Among the suitors is Nexstar Media Group, the nation’s biggest TV station group and a large owner of affiliates of the network, the people close to the talks said. The CW caters primarily to teens and young adults.
Executives from WarnerMedia, Graham Media Group, Dalet and Perspective Media Group told a TVNewsCheck webinar last week that the proliferation of direct-to-consumer services and remote/distributed production shifts put the industry’s cloud migration as next year’s biggest trend.
As Discovery is poised to conclude a transformational merger with WarnerMedia by the middle of next year, it’s Zaslav’s job to make sure that company, Warner Bros. Discovery, will be well positioned to evolve and thrive amid a torrent of market disruption. Zaslav speaks about the business challenges ahead for the enlarged entity that he will lead as CEO, assuming the $43 billion merger secures regulatory approval.
NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Nielsen and more are seeking the best way to provide accurate, usable information to buyers and sellers.
Executives from WarnerMedia, CBS Owned Stations, Hearst Television and Sinclair told attendees of TVNewsCheck’s TV2020 virtual conference last week that their migration of workflows to cloud technology continues apace since the pandemic. However, concerns over the crucial “last mile” of their networks remain.
Fox Corp.’s entertainment division has closed its acquisition of TMZ from WarnerMedia, confirming that founder and managing editor Harvey Levin will continue with the newly situated company. Terms were not disclosed, but the deal is believed to be worth in the range of $100 million to $125 million.
Executives from WarnerMedia, Sinclair, CBS Owned Stations and Hearst will look at the financial implications of full and partial migrations to the cloud in a panel at TVNewsCheck’s virtual TV2025: Monetizing the Future event on Sept. 23. Register here.
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.
Competing economic incentives are leading NBCUniversal, Disney and WarnerMedia to make difficult decisions about how to program their streaming services. The tension between how to balance streaming video, theatrical release and linear TV is leading to some peculiar choices bound to confuse consumers in what’s becoming an increasingly jumbled landscape.
Dish Network and WarnerMedia have ended their three-year carriage dispute, effectively immediately. HBO and Cinemax, as well as streaming service HBO Max, will now be available to Dish consumers for the first time since 2018.
HBO and its streaming service, HBO Max, have attracted 67.5 million customers, and the company expects to reach 73 million by year end.
This year’s upfront generated high prices because falling ratings meant a lack of supply in the market. At the same time, many businesses were looking to resume advertising as the effects of the pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown lessened. Broadcast and sports were among the most in-demand media
Comscore has signed the first media company to participate in its national addressable TV programmer measurement trials: WarnerMedia. Under the agreement, which began in late 2020, WarnerMedia is the first to test Comscore’s program, which allows publishers to execute and measure their national linear addressable inventory across multiple MVPD and connected TV providers for the first time.
With speculation swirling about Jason Kilar’s potential exit from WarnerMedia — given its looming combo with Discovery — the CEO told staffers at a town hall meeting Thursday that he plans to stay with the company through next year. “My plan and my focus is to remain here in my CEO role at WarnerMedia,” Kilar said, according to a source who was in attendance. “I am not thinking right now about post-merger. There will be a time to consider that topic in 2022.”