A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Selling WarnerMedia off for a Discovery merger? Apparently.
Could the home of Bugs Bunny, Batman, and Anderson Cooper soon be moved into a neighborhood with Deadliest Catch and Flip or Flop?
The big news story to watch over the next 24 hours is the breaking news that corporate owner AT&T is looking to sell off its WarnerMedia asset and merge it with Discovery Inc.
AT&T bought WarnerMedia three years ago for a cool $85 billion. During these same three years, AT&T has been selling off a large number of its assets to drive down debt. So, this isn't hugely surprising.
The surprising element of this, to me, is that it is set to merge with Discovery Inc. A merger for Discovery seemed inevitable - it needed a merger or acquisition to scale up in order to continue to be viable in the market going forward. Honestly, I expected to see a Discovery Inc / ViacomCBS merger happen. Those assets seemed far more compatible.
Which isn't to say that there aren't compatible assets between WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. WarnerMedia has had a CNN problem for a while - the brand has been financially linked to cable and there were a number of contractual issues that have previously prevented WarnerMedia from going all in with CNN as a digital asset (at least with its linear channel as a core component). But even as a digital asset, would there be enough there to drive subscriber interest? Bundling in CNN with the factually-based Discovery content actually feels like a stronger fit than bundling in CNN with HBO Max.
The deal would underscore the difficulty telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. have had finding a payoff from their media operations. Through its WarnerMedia unit, AT&T owns CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT and the Warner Bros. studio. Discovery, backed by cable mogul John Malone, controls networks such as HGTV, Food Network, TLC and Animal Planet.
Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav has helped Discovery grow through acquisitions, including a purchase of HGTV owner Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. that closed in 2018. Discovery’s class A shares have risen more than 18% this year, valuing the company at almost $24 billion. AT&T has gained 12%, giving it a market capitalization of $230 billion.
The companies are still negotiating the structure of a transaction, and details could change or the talks could fall apart, the people said. Representatives for AT&T and Discovery declined to comment.
It's all very interesting - by this time tomorrow we'll know what shape this merger will take. And maybe even whether we see Jason Kilar ousted as the head of WarnerMedia (I'd be surprised if he's gone from the newly formed company - but let's see how it plays out).
US network TV cancellations & renewals - 2021/22
From Friday afternoon onwards we got word on all of the renewals and cancellations on the US broadcast TV networks ahead of their upcoming upfront presentations to media buyers.
Some shows are yet to be announced (for example, an order for mid-season episodes of a Night Court reboot are likely). And the fate of others hang in the air.
Maybe the most interesting news is that CBS are moving two of its series, Clarice, and SEAL Team over to streaming platform Paramount+. I don't have an issue with shows being moved from cable to streaming, but something rankles when viewers have been watching a show for free on broadcast are now expected to pay for it on an alternate platform.
Not going anywhere: The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Law & Order: SVU (renewed for seasons 23 and 24), New Amsterdam (renewed for seasons 4 and 5), This Is Us (renewed for a sixth and final season), Young Rock, Mr Mayor, Kenan.
Dumped to the curb: Brooklyn Nine Nine, Superstore
Oh, hello: American Auto, Grand Crew, La Brea, Ordinary Joe, The Thing About Pam
Witness relocation: Clarice and SEAL Team are renewed, but will be moved to Paramount+
Not going anywhere: A Million Little Things, Black-ish (renewed for an eighth and final season), The Conners, The Goldbergs, The Good Doctor, Grey's Anatomy, The Rookie, Station 19, Big Sky, Home Economics, Women of The Movement
Dumped to the curb: American Housewife, Mixed-ish, For Life, Call Your Mother, Rebel
Oh, hello: The Wonder Years, Abbott Elementary, Maggie, Queens
Not going anywhere: Bob's Burgers, Duncanville, Family Guy, The Great North, The Simpsons, Call Me Kat, Housebroken
Dumped to the curb: Bless The Harts, Last Man Standing, Prodigal Son
Oh, hello: The Big Leap, The Cleaning Lady, Fantasy Island, Monarch, Our Kind of People, Pivoting, This Country, Untitled Dan Harmon animated comedy, Accused
Shrug emoji: 911 (likely renewal), The Moodys (unlikely renewal), The Resident (likely renewal)
Not going anywhere: All American, Batwoman, Charmed, Dynasty, The Flash, In The Dark, Legacies, Legends of Tomorrow, Nancy Drew, Riverdale, Roswell New Mexico, Stargirl, Kung Fu, Superman & Lois, Walker, Republic of Sarah
Dumped to the curb: Black Lightning and Supergirl would down this season with their fourth and sixth seasons, respectively
Oh, hello: The 4400
Netflix 'sexy' movie 365 will get two sequels. Source: Deadline
Gillian Anderson will join the cast of The Great playing Catherine's mother. Source: Variety
What a birthday gift for me - iCarly returns for its reboot series on June 17. Source: Variety
A limited-run Bridgerton spin-off will focus on the origins of Queen Charlotte. Read: Dark Horizons
A murder-mystery reboot of Clueless won't go ahead at Peacock. Good. Read: /Film
What's next? Tomorrow.
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