WarnerMedia is the new name for what was previously Time Warner, adopted following its acquisition in 2018 by AT&T. That takeover followed a long series of deals to unwind what had at one point been the world's biggest media company. Warner Music, Time Warner Cable, Time Inc and finally AOL were all divested between 2003 and 2014, leaving the slimmed-down group focused on its filmed entertainment and cable networks businesses. In 2000 the merger of the old Time Warner with internet pioneer AOL had been billed as the deal that would transform the entertainment industry, but the world then simply wasn't ready for such a transformation. By 2016, though, the time was finally right for a combination of content and internet-based delivery, and Time Warner accepted an offer to be acquired for $85bn by AT&T. Despite opposition from the Trump administration, the deal was cleared by regulators in 2018, at which point Time Warner adopted the new name WarnerMedia. There are three main engines to the business. Warner Bros is the group's film and TV studio generating feature entertainment for cinema distribution as well as hundreds of hours of television content for its own or third-party networks. This is partnered by the Turner cable channel collection, and revered pay-TV network HBO, original home of such multi-award winning series as Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Veep, Sex & The City, Big Little Lies, Westworld, Succession, and many many more. The Turner and HBO assets were combined in 2020, and then realigned as two themed divisions. Flagship of WarnerMedia News & Sports is CNN, the original 24-hour news channel, though its one-time lead has more recently been overturned by rival Fox News. Other assets include regional sports channels under the Turner Sports banner and news portal the Bleacher Report. WarnerMedia Entertainment is home to HBO as well as to several of America's most prominent cable channels. TBS and TNT are the two top-rated channels in the US for scripted comedy and drama, averaging over 1m viewers a night. Other important strands include Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, TruTV and TCM. WarnerMedia's most important new venture is OTT streaming entertainment service HBO Max, launched in 2020 as a new home for all the group's premium content. It got off to a slightly shaky start as a result of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Former Hulu chief Jason Kilar was appointed as CEO in 2020, taking over from John Stankey, now CEO designate of AT&T. WarnerMedia contributed revenues to AT&T of $33.5bn and operating income of $9.3bn. Warner Bros accounted for revenues of $14.4bn; the Turner channels for $13.1bn and HBO for $6.7bn.
Capsule checked 4th June 2020
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Historical profile information for Time Warner
Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Apr 2020: AT&T named former Hulu chief Jason Kilar as the new CEO of WarnerMedia. He takes over from John Stankey who has moved up to COO of AT&T and heir apparent to group CEO Randall Stephenson.
Adbrands Daily Update 16th Apr 2019: AT&T sold its near-10% stake in Hulu for $1.4bn, almost three times the $583m Time Warner originally paid for the shares three years ago. The acquiror was Hulu itself, which is expected to reallocate the shares to its two remaining shareholders Walt Disney, with around 60%, and Comcast with 30%. The sale values Hulu at $15bn, a good price, but still only a 10th of Netflix's $150bn valuation. AT&T sold the shares to avoid any conflict of interest when it launches its own OTT streaming service later this year.
Adbrands Daily Update 4th Mar 2019: AT&T was quick to announce a full overhaul of WarnerMedia's operating structure. As expected, HBO and most of the Turner cable division was merged under the banner of Warner Entertainment. This unit will also house the group's planned move into direct-to-consmer streaming. Robert Greenblatt, the recently departed chairman of NBC Entertainment, was named as divisional chairman. Turner's sports assets are being combined with CNN as Warner News & Sport under Jeff Zucker. Turner's animation strands Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, as well as the TCM cable channel, transfer to Warner Bros under Kevin Tsujihara. Turner's current international chief Gerhard Zeiler becomes chief revenue officer in charge of distribution and advertising.
Adbrands Daily Update 26th Feb 2019: A US court of appeal upheld last year's ruling in favour of the merger of AT&T and Time Warner. The three-judge panel said that the Justice Department's claims that the deal would encourage price rises for consumers were "unpersuasive" especially in light of AT&T's pledge not to block rival distributors from accessing content created by what is now WarnerMedia for at least seven years. AT&T will now proceed with closer integration of WarnerMedia into its existing structure - it had kept the two entities apart pending the latest appeal. The first move is expected to be a merger of WarnerMedia's HBO and Turner units, whose respective CEOs Richard Plepler and David Levy both announced their departure following the appeal decision.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: CNN filed a lawsuit against President Trump and several members of his administration after they suspended the press credentials of reporter Jim Acosta over an alleged "assault" on a White House intern who attempted to take back his microphone during a heated press conference. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to justify the decision by tweeting a version of the footage which had been doctored to make Acosta's interaction with the intern appear more aggressive than it was. CNN is accusing the White House of violating Acosta's rights under the First and Fifth Amendments, and demands the return of his credentials. In a notable development, Fox News was one of the many other news organisations that weighed in on CNN's behalf. Fox News president Jay Wallace said the company "supports CNN in its legal efforts to regain" Acosta's credentials. "While we don't condone the growing antagonistic tone of both the president and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges". However, celebrated journalist Bob Woodward warned that the lawsuit may actually be playing into Trump's hands. "I think Trump would sit around and look at this and say, 'This is great'. Nixon effectively made the conduct of the media the issue, rather than his conduct. Trump has adopted that strategy, he's refined it. It's very effective, and so when we engage in it, we're taking his bait, in my view." [UPDATED] First round went to CNN: a US judge originally appointed by Trump restored Acosta's pass on a temporary basis while the case continued. The White House eventually backed down and restored full credentials to Acosta. As a result, the lawsuit was dropped.
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