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.”
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)
Discovery’s merger pursuit suggests companies as big as ViacomCBS still aren’t big enough to compete when tech and media giants are on the prowl
Jason Kilar was named chief executive of WarnerMedia just last year, but now he is negotiating his departure after being sidelined by David Zaslav, the longtime leader of Discovery.
“We are the best media company in the world” says the CEO poised to lead the content powerhouse. The enlarged Discovery-WarnerMedia will have massive reach across news, sports, unscripted, lifestyle content and some of entertainment’s biggest franchises and tentpole events from the HBO and Warner Bros. imprimaturs.
This week’s announcement of a mega-merger between AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery must still pass muster with consumers who may not be willing to pay a premium fee for much of what they watch.
Technology executives from WarnerMedia, Sinclair and Hearst said at a recent TVNewsCheck webinar that they’re tackling the content management challenge amplified by the pandemic by using cloud storage and leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve indexing and searching.
The National Hockey League has completed its next TV rights package — and for the first time in 16 years, NBC Sports won’t be a part of it. NBC pulled out of negotiations for the partial rights for the league’s next TV deal. WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports will pick up the remainder of the package, sharing rights with ESPN for seven seasons beginning with the 2021-22 seasonth.
WarnerMedia sells the CBS series in top Nexstar markets along with stations from Sinclair, CBS, Hearst, Gray, Tegna, Scripps, Cox, Meredith, Graham, Weigel, Allen Media, Sunbeam, News-Press, Londen Media, Griffin, Lockwood, Morris among others. It debuts in fall 2021.
ViacomCBS’s international networks division said it agreed to acquire Chilevisión from AT&T’s WarnerMedia. Financial terms were not disclosed. Local reports valued the transaction at between $14 million and $20 million. ViacomCBS Networks International said the acquisition will expand its footprint in Latin America and give it premium Spanish-language content for its Paramount Plus and Pluto TV streaming platforms.
Jason Kilar, who has served as CEO of WarnerMedia since May 2020, has a compensation package worth about $17 million per year in cash and stock, according to a regulatory filing. Kilar’s base annual salary is $2.5 million, plus $2.5 million in short-term target bonus and $12 million in vested stock grants per year, according to AT&T’s proxy filing Thursday. The exec’s total realized compensation in 2020 was $2.92 million.
Ad sales have been “remarkably strong” following last year’s cancellation. Turner and CBS have now had an entire year to prepare for the return of March Madness, which is going to look a little different from 2019. All 67 games will be staged entirely in Indiana, and 10 production teams will work the event, up from the usual eight.
WarnerMedia joined the list of media companies announcing plans to hold a virtual upfront event in May. “WarnerMedia will host its Upfront on Wednesday, May 19, in a virtual event to showcase its entire portfolio of offerings to advertisers. The event will take place in the morning,” a WarnerMedia ad sales spokesperson said.
As Netflix and Disney cement their leads over an array of rivals in the video streaming market, top executives at Comcast and its NBCUniversal arm are in a quandary. Only 11.3 million households regularly watch NBCU’s Peacock service, far fewer than use competing services, according to recent internal data. NBCU wants to ramp up Peacock’s growth, particularly among paying users, but without spending a lot of money. Its solution is to strike deals with other entertainment companies to broaden either Peacock’s programming or its distribution.
Technology executives from WarnerMedia, Sinclair, Amagi and Grass Valley said at a TVNewsCheck webinar last week that while broadcasters are drawn to the cloud’s flexibility and scalability, moving away from on-prem hardware means workflow changes often better suited to a hybrid model.
Networks and station groups are working on designing IP and cloud playout operations that include live programming. What challenges do they still face in 2021? How much of their cloud playout plans will use the public clouds and how much will take place in private data networks? What do leading technologists anticipate will be their timelines for moving playout to IP or the cloud?
Technology managers from Sinclair Broadcast Group, WarnerMedia, Amagi and Grass Valley will talk about their progress at designing IP and cloud playout operations during a TVNewsCheck Working Lunch Webinar. Set for Thursday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m. ET, the webinar’s speakers will be (clockwise from upper right): Matt Azzarto, director of media technology, Production Engineering Group, WarnerMedia; Srini Srinivasan, co-founder, Amagi; Walid Hamri, senior director of media systems at Sinclair Broadcast Group; moderator Glen Dickson, TVNewsCheck contributing editor, and Karl Mehring, senior director of product management for playout at Grass Valley. Please register here to join the webinar.
As Hollywood tries to make sense of 2020’s sweeping changes in TV’s C-suites, streaming’s priority is the only constant.
Warner executives are discussing launching two new streaming services. One would be a subscription offering based on content from CNN and could launch next year. Another would be a free service carrying programming from its entertainment cable channels TBS and TNT as well as the Warner Bros. film library, said people familiar with the situation.
“It is time for both AT&T and Comcast to abandon the fool’s gold of vertical integration of content and distribution and merge NBCUniversal with WarnerMedia,” LightShedPartners analyst Richard Greenfield argued last week. Will this vision actually become reality? “We doubt it,” he adds.
Under AT&T, CNN chief Jeff Zucker felt blindsided by a recent overhaul of WarnerMedia that slimmed down his role. The 55-year-old’s contract expires next year and he hasn’t committed to extending his deal in meetings with WarnerMedia brass and communications with CNN employees, people familiar with the situation say.
The 10th Annual Women in Technology Awards Presentation Ceremony and “Predictions for 2021” panel will kick off today, live on Zoom, at 4 p.m. ET. See the honorees, an honor roll of past honorees, here in the program. Still need to Register?
The AT&T-owned company is seeking to reduce costs by as much as 20% as the pandemic drains income from movie tickets, cable subscriptions and TV ads, according to people familiar with the matter.
WarnerMedia still has the challenge of transitioning the bulk of the 36 million-plus HBO customers it already has onto the new service.
It is a difficult day at WarnerMedia, which is undergoing a round of major layoffs, part of a companywide restructuring spearheaded by new CEO Jason Kilar. As part of realignment, leaving the company are (l-r) Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution; Ron Sanders, president, Worldwide Theatrical Distribution & Home Entertainment and EVP, International Business Operations; and Kim Williams, EVP and chief financial officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment.
New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is putting his stamp on the company with a big reorganization. Leaving WarnerMedia are Bob Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, and Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TNT, TBS, and truTV, as well as Keith Cocozza, SVP communications. The move comes four months after Kilar took over the top WarnerMedia post and two months after the launch of HBO Max.
TVNewsCheck will present a virtualized 10th Annual Women in Technology Awards presentation ceremony and immediately after it, a “Predictions for 2021” panel session featuring all six honorees talking about how widespread remote production and other developments this year are likely to affect technology in 2021. Honorees are (top, l-r): SMPTE’s Barbara Lange, WarnerMedia’s Lisa Pedrogo, Perspective Media’s Janet Gardner, (bottom, l-r): Avid’s Kate Ketcham, Latakoo’s Jade Kurian and Walt Disney Co.’s Sally Hattori. To attend the event on Monday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. ET, please register here.
WarnerMedia leadership told staffers Monday that the CNN Center in Atlanta will be sold, downplaying questions about whether the move signals impending layoffs.