EXPLAINER: Why airlines fear 5G will upend travel this week
The airline industry is raising the stakes in a showdown with AT&T and Verizon over plans to launch new 5G wireless service this week, warning that thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the rollout takes place near major airports.
Dems: Discovery, AT&T merger will hurt diversity, workers
House Democrats are raising concerns that the proposed merger of Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, a $43 billion effort to conquer the world of streaming, could affect diversity efforts in Hollywood and particularly hurt Latinos, who are already deeply underrepresented.
The winners and losers of AT&T's split with WarnerMedia
AT&T is unwinding a huge part of its $84 billion acquisition of Time Warner, less than three years after it closed.Driving the news: AT&T this morning announced that it will merge its WarnerMedia properties with Discovery Inc.'s media assets.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeAT&T's contributions will include cable networks CNN, TNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and HBO, plus streaming service HBO Max. Discovery's will include its Discovery-branded content, TLC, Food Network, Eurosport and its Discovery+ streaming service.The deal is expected to close in the middle of next year, via a joint venture that would have projected 2023 revenue of $52 billion and adjusted EBITDA of around $14 billion.The big winner is Elliott Management, the activist investor which last year took a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T and publicly argued that the Time Warner acquisition didn't make strategic sense.Elliott later signed a ceasefire with new AT&T CEO John Stankey, who agreed to spin off DirecTV via a deal with TPG Capital.There were reports in November that Elliott divested its AT&T stake, but my understanding is that it just sold off its small amount of common stock, but maintain most of its swaps. It subsequently purchased new common stock, to be reflected in a 13F being filed today.It does not appear that AT&T reached out to private equity firms to help buttress the deal.The big loser is former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Not only were Time Warner and DirecTV his two biggest acquisitions, but his failed pursuit of T-Mobile triggered a massive termination fee that financially strengthened a smaller rival and arguably caused AT&T to sell off wireless spectrum.The big comp is Verizon, which also has a (relatively) new CEO who views networking as the crown jewel and content as a pricey distraction.The big note is how rushed this morning's announcement felt, despite some background insistence that it wasn't, per Axios media reporter Sara Fischer.They didn't announce the new company's name, instead saying they'll drop it "later this week."No disclosed decisions yet on if the two streaming services will be merged.Reporters had 30 minutes notice this morning of the Zoom call.No clarity on the future of WarnerMedia boss Jason Kilar, who was notably absent from the press release. Stankey simply said that Discovery CEO David Zaslav — who will run the new business — has lots of discussions ahead of him. The bottom line: Two things you can always count on after acquiring Time Warner are big controversy and big regrets.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.news.yahoo.com
AT&T CEO says dividend cut not needed to fund growth, touts HBO Max's upcoming ad-supported option
AT&T CEO John Stankey told CNBC on Friday the company can maintain its dividend payment while still investing in growth businesses like direct-to-consumer streaming service HBO Max. HBO Max, which is part of AT&T's WarnerMedia division, is a key focus for the company. AT&T on Friday increased its subscriber forecast for HBO Max and HBO, projecting global subscribers of between 120 million and 150 million for HBO Max and HBO by the end of 2025. The company is planning to launch HBO Max in Latin America and later Europe, he said. AT&T's new forecast comes as Netflix recently surpassed 200 million subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2020, and and Disney's streaming service Disney+ surpassed 100 million subscribers just 16 months after its launch.cnbc.com
'Wonder Woman 1984' debuts with pandemic-best $16.7M
This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Gal Gadot in a scene from "Wonder Woman 1984." “Wonder Woman 1984” grossed an additional $19.4 million in international markets where it began playing a week earlier. But WarnerMedia is counting on “Wonder Woman 1984” to matter more to HBO Max, which wobbled in its initial rollout. Warner Bros. nevertheless seized on the returns for “Wonder Woman 1984” as the best as could be expected, given the circumstances. Streaming numbers weren't provided for “Soul” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” WarnerMedia said nearly half of HBO Max’s subscribers watched “Wonder Woman 1984” on its first day on the streaming platform, though it didn't say how long constituted a watch.
Disney unveils plans to stream a galaxy of new series, films
NEW YORK – The Walt Disney Co.’s streaming plans shifted into hyper speed Thursday, as the studio unveiled a galaxy’s worth of new streaming offerings including plans for 10 “Star Wars” series spinoffs and 10 Marvel series that will debut on Disney+. But Disney also kept its biggest films — including Marvel's “Black Widow," Pixar's “Luca,” a “Lion King” prequel — on course for theatrical release. Jenkins becomes the first woman to direct a “Star Wars” film. Among the “Star Wars” series are two spinoffs of “The Mandalorian,” set during the series' timeline: “Rangers of the New Republic” and “Ahsoka,” with Rosario Dawson. Seven Disney films topped $1 billion worldwide.
AT&T has added 4 million HBO Max subscribers since Sept. 30, CEO John Stankey says
AT&T's WarnerMedia added 4 million HBO Max signups since the end of the third quarter, chief executive John Stankey said Tuesday. HBO Max now has 12.6 million activated users, up from 8.6 million on Sept. 30, Stankey said during UBS' Global TMT conference. Stankey and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar are aggressively stocking HBO Max with new content in an effort to get to 50 million U.S. subscribers, the streaming service's 2025 goal. He said while live news and sports won't initially be part of HBO Max, that decision could change when HBO Max subscribers roughly equal the number of traditional pay-TV households. WATCH: WarnerMedia CEO: 'Not at all' worried about the success of HBO Maxcnbc.com
The home of the Sopranos is under siege: Inside the battle for the soul of HBO
Instead, Stankey decided to use HBO as the centerpiece for a new mission: Build a true Netflix competitor, dubbed HBO Max. He is attempting to funnel all of the company's resources from cable, film, and HBO into HBO Max, as he told CNBC last year. "Jason's belief is — wrongly — if any piece of content available anywhere other than HBO Max, it cheapens HBO Max," said one recently departed executive. By pricing HBO Max the same as HBO, Stankey seemed to assume HBO users would simply switch to HBO Max over time. Then there's the confusing branding around HBO Max, which initially joined a plethora of similarly named services, including HBO, HBO Go, and HBO Now.cnbc.com
Warner Bros. weighs 'Wonder Woman 1984' release as Covid cases continue to spike
With six weeks to go before "Wonder Woman 1984" is set to debut in theaters, Warner Bros. executives are still debating the film's release strategy. Representatives from Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. However, if "Wonder Woman 1984" goes to HBO Max, it's unlikely that theaters would get a cut, like AMC does from its premium video on-demand deal with Universal. Variety points out in its report that "Wonder Woman 1984" is easily a billion-dollar grossing box office blockbuster, something that is hard for studio executives to ignore. That paltry showing coupled with a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S. could persuade Warner Bros. to move "Wonder Woman 1984" to June or July of 2021.cnbc.com
Warner Bros. says 'Tenet' wasn't a 'home run,' 'not optimistic' about movie theaters rebounding
The coronavirus pandemic has not been easy to navigate for studios or movie theaters. "We're not...expecting a huge recovery in theatrical moving into the early part of next year. Warner Bros. was one of the first studios to launch a big-budget feature into the market, bringing "Tenet" to international theaters in August, and to the U.S. and Canada in early September. Under normal circumstances, "Tenet" might have garnered between $50 million and $60 million during its opening weekend domestically. The lackluster performance of the film, especially state-side, has led Warner Bros. to be more cautious about other theatrical releases.cnbc.com
Movie theaters implore studios: Release the blockbusters
FILE - Posters for upcoming movies are displayed in an empty corridor at the currently closed AMC Burbank Town Center 8 movie theaters complex on April 29, 2020, in Burbank, Calif. After several false starts, the film industry is hoping to bring new releases back into movie theaters in late August. While the beleaguered restaurant industry still has takeout and airlines continue to operate with masked flyers, the vast majority of U.S. movie theaters havent punched a single ticket since March. The largest studios the Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., Universal now all have streaming services of their own now, along with television operations. Theaters in China, the worlds second largest movie market, this week reopened with theaters limited to 30% capacity. If they dont do something, if they just keeping holding the films back, the theaters are going to die.
Coronavirus impact saps AT&T revenue; 3M sign-ups at HBO Max
AT&T Inc. on Thursday said the coronavirus sapped $2.8 billion from its revenue, mostly in its WarnerMedia TV and film division. WarnerMedia revenue fell 23% to $6.8 billion due to a pullback by TV advertisers, particularly as there were no live sports, and movie theaters closed. The company is hoping to navigate the shift to online video with its HBO Max service, which launched in late May. There are 36.3 million U.S. subscribers to HBO Max or HBO. The company said it had work to do to educate and motivate HBO customers that they could switch to HBO Max, which has more content.
Outgoing AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson leaves behind a checkered tenure
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced his retirement Friday, effective July1, 2020. When Stephenson took over AT&T as CEO in May 2007, the company's stock price was $39.47. AT&T is also one of the world's most reliable dividend payers, and the company's dividend has consistently increased since 2007. AT&T misjudged the pace of how many satellite TV customers would ditch their traditional pay-TV service for so-called "over the top" internet video options. Stephenson and incoming CEO John Stankey have actually leaned into this in recent years, including rolling out AT&T TV this year, which purposefully eliminates satellite installation.cnbc.com
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to step down, COO Stankey to take over
AT&T announced Friday that CEO Randall Stephenson will retire and will be succeeded by President and COO John Stankey on July 1, months earlier than expected. Stephenson, 60, said in February he would remain CEO for the rest of the year, though he refused to project beyond that date. Elliott Management, the activist investment firm that pushed for executive changes at AT&T, said it "supports" Stankey as the company's next CEO. AT&T shares are down 25% since Stephenson became CEO in May 2007. In the first quarter of this year, AT&T lost 897,000 premium TV subscribers, which counts mainly DirecTV users.cnbc.com
Elliott Management softened stance on John Stankey as new AT&T CEO after being unsatisfied with external choices
Elliott said Friday it "supports John Stankey as AT&T's next CEO." It advocated that AT&T focus on divesting assets and lowering debt, pushing the largest U.S. wireless company to sell DirecTV, one of the assets Stankey has steadfastly defended. Over the past five months, AT&T has run an executive search process led by board member Beth Mooney, who chairs the board's human relations committee. "The HR committee and the consultants they formally retained were the only ones involved in the search process." AT&T will be focused on divesting more assets and lowering its debt in the coming years, Elliott believes, said the people.cnbc.com
WarnerMedia replaces CEO with Hulu co-founder Jason Kilar
AT&T is replacing WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey with Hulu co-founder Jason Kilar, the company announced Wednesday. WarnerMedia has been searching for a new CEO since AT&T elevated Stankey to chief operating officer in September. AT&T's executive shuffle on Wednesday puts Stankey in the best position to succeed Stephenson as CEO if Stephenson decides to step down after this year. Kilar's experience at Hulu gives him a solid background in streaming services as WarnerMedia seeks to compete with a bloated field of competitors. Kilar served as CEO of Hulu since founding the company in 2007 until 2013, according to the announcement.cnbc.com
AT&T president says consumer behavior will be fundamentally changed from coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic will alter consumer behavior across the entire business landscape, AT&T President and COO John Stankey said Wednesday. "Not just AT&T, every company is going to see consumer behavior changes coming out of this event," Stankey told CNBC's Julia Boorstin. We're going to return to different business models," Stankey added on "Power Lunch." Stankey's comments came shortly after AT&T announced that Hulu co-founder Jason Kilar would take over as CEO of WarnerMedia on May 1. Stankey said he believes AT&T, with its diverse business units, is well situated to navigate a post-pandemic world.cnbc.com
John Stankey says AT&T is prepared for market swings, coronavirus and HBO Max launch
Despite the market's dramatic drop over the past week on news about the spread of coronavirus, AT&T COO and Warner Media head John Stankey says he's not concerned. Stankey, who talked to CNBC on the heels of the launch of streaming TV bundle AT&T TV this week, said it was a key culmination of a number of changes to the company's TV business. "We've been on a march to rationalize our portfolio since we did the DirecTV acquisition and AT&T TV is just the next logical step in that occurring. It is designed to be a very premium, highly curated set of original content and library content," says Stankey. In 2021, Warner Media will add an ad-supported version of HBO Max.cnbc.com
AT&T gives HBO customers a free bonus with HBO Max, but finding new subscribers is the big challenge
AT&T Chief Operating Officer John Stankey said WarnerMedia is working with pay-TV distributors to give current HBO subscribers access to HBO Max. If HBO Max renders HBO obsolete, the quality brand of HBO could diminish over time. While HBO will live on as a brand within the HBO Max application, it's possible consumers, over time, will view HBO Max as synonymous with HBO. HBO Max will actually become profitable in 2025 when 50 million Americans are subscribing to HBO Max, according to AT&T. It's hard not to view HBO Max as a gift to HBO subscribers.cnbc.com
AT&T to launching new streaming service
The launch of a new subscription video streaming service was a keystone in AT&T's $85 billion deal for Time Warner. The launch of a new subscription video streaming service was a keystone in AT&T's $85 billion deal for Time Warner, CNN's parent company. The media company previously had three divisions -- HBO, Warner Bros and Turner -- with relatively little synergy between them. AT&T said Monday that it intends to spend about $2 billion on HBO Max in the next two years. HBO already offers a streaming subscription option for its programming, known as HBO Now.
AT&T promotes WarnerMedia boss John Stankey
AT&T announced two promotions on Tuesday that place John Stankey, the CEO of its subsidiary WarnerMedia, firmly in line to succeed the wireless giant's CEO, Randall Stephenson. DALLAS, Texas - AT&T announced two promotions on Tuesday that place John Stankey, the CEO of its subsidiary WarnerMedia, firmly in line to succeed the wireless giant's CEO, Randall Stephenson. Stephenson, who has led AT&T since 2007, is installing Stankey as president and chief operating officer of the entire company. At the same time, Stankey will remain the head of WarnerMedia, the entertainment and news unit that includes CNN. Another contender was John Donovan, the head of the AT&T Communications unit, but Donovan announced his retirement last week.