WarnerMedia merges with Discovery in latest move to join the streaming giant race

The scene has been set for the creation of yet another streaming giant vying for consumer attention, through the planned merger of AT&T’s Warner Media with Discovery.

The landmark deal will see the two companies become the second largest media group by revenue after Disney, with $41bn in sales annually as it brings together movie giant Warner Bros, HBO and other networks along with Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and more.

“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,” AT&T chief executive, John Stankey said in a statement.

“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 joint company – still in the process of decided a new moniker, with suggestions including Warner Discovery, Warner Bros Discovery and Warner Discovery Media – will be lead by Discovery’s president and chief executive, David Zaslav, who has said that the combined company would spend around $20 billion a year on content. 

Zaslav has suggested that the company could see its annual sales hit $52bn by 2023.

The merger will sit among some of the most significant deals of the past five years, alongside Disney’s purchase of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire, and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. It is part of a plan to increase AT&T’s content pool as the streaming race intensifies further.

Netflix is leading the race to date with over 200 million subscribers, while Disney+ boasts its 104 million. Both HBO and Discovery entered the race recently with the launch of HBO Max and Discovery+. HBO Max, together with the HBO cable network has around 44 million customers, while Discovery has 15 million global streaming subscribers.

For WarnerMedia, the deal will mark the third restructuring in as many years.

The Harry Potter store magics £20m retail revenue as it plans world’s largest shop in New York

Harry Potter is continuing to cast its magic upon the UK retail space, having generated £20.1 million of revenue over the 15 months to the end of February last year.

Financial statements have revealed that through a chain of just three stores located within the UK – two in the departure lounges of London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and one at London’s Kings Cross railway station – Potter maintains its spell over UK shoppers.

The stores are operated by the British company Platform 9 ¾ Kings Cross, which also managed the retail for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre shows in London, Melbourne, New York, and San Francisco, ultimately owned by WarnerMedia.

According to a report from Forbes, over the 15 months to the end of February 2019, Platform 9 ¾ Kings Cross made a £0.4 million net profit after paying £25.6 million of costs. Its biggest expense was the £7.5 million spent on stock, followed by the £3.7 million on wages.

Amid the financial reports has come the announcement that Warner will now open the world’s largest Harry Potter store in New York this summer.

The new store will be located next to the Flatiron building at 935 Broadway and will span more than 20,000 square feet across three floors. It will also house the largest collection of products based on the Harry Potter movies, as well as the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs.