John Malone sees WarnerMedia-Discovery as the # 3 player behind Netflix and Disney +

John Malone

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Billionaire media mogul John Malone told CNBC David Faber that a successful WarnerMedia-Discovery deal is particularly good news for HBO Max.

In an interview aired on Monday, Malone said his previous reservations about HBO Max’s ability to be a dominant player in the crowded digital broadcasting scene would be addressed once the AT&T-owned service became under the same roof as Discovery.

“I thought they’d struggle to get the kind of subscriber growth in the US that they were hoping for.” Malone said, Member of the Discovery Council Those whose voting share in the company exceeds 25%.

Malone believes the new project could join Netflix and Disney + as a true global powerhouse.

“I think we will not only be the third such platform, but I think we will be very competitive with the other platform in terms of being able to cater to the entertainment, curiosity and information needs of the flat world,” Malone said. .

Disney + ended its second fiscal quarter with 103.6 million subscribersAccording to the company. Netflix said last month that it has approximately 208 million subscribers worldwide.

AT&T said in April that HBO and HBO Max have 44.2 million subscribers in the United States and nearly 64 million worldwide.

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s flagship streaming feature, made its debut in the United States last May and plans to expand internationally. In Malone’s view, this installment will be facilitated by Discovery’s global expertise.

“For me, the problem with HBO Max is that it did not have the ability to reach the international level at the time. The cable television pioneer and the longtime chairman of Liberty Media said that the merger with Discovery, given Discovery’s current presence, is a sizeable presence in the 200 Country around the world with a great brand, … that’s the big advantage for me.

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Malone commented in an extensive interview with CNBC about the deal announced last week between Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which the telecom giant had acquired less than three years ago.

If the deal gets regulatory approval, WarnerMedia’s various media and entertainment properties, including CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. , For AT&T and its merger with Discovery brands such as HGTV, Food Network, and Discovery Channel.

This would place the new company – which has not yet acquired a new name – as an even more formidable competitor in the highly competitive streaming video wars. Plus HBO Max from WarnerMedia, Discovery’s direct consumer signature platform, Discovery +, launched in January.

Malone is confident of David Zaslav’s leadership

Discovery chief executive David Zaslav told CNBC last week that he believed the combined company could. It ultimately garnered 400 million live video streaming subscribers worldwide, far more than any competitor.

“Netflix is ​​a big company, Disney is a big company, but we have a very diverse and attractive content portfolio on a large scale,” said Zaslav, who will lead the new company.

Malone said he trusted Zaslav’s management abilities and generally believed the Discovery Warner Media merger was beneficial. He also said he has no concerns about the relinquishing of his shares in Super-voice Discovery as part of the deal.

According to FactSet, Malone owns more than 93% of Discovery’s Class B stock, 10 votes per share to one vote per Class A share. Discovery also has a third class of stock known as Series C.

Built-in WarnerMedia-Discovery will only have one type of inventory.

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“My reaction was good, I thought the alphabet soup served us its purpose, and we protected the company and gave it a long-term vision for several years. It was time for its usefulness to expire, so I was okay with that,” said Malone, whose Liberty Media affiliate stripped their stake in Discovery Communications. Into a separate entity in 2005.

Malone talks about the “brave decision” of AT&T CEO John Stankey

AT&T decides to create WarnerMedia It signaled the end of his attempt to tie the origin of content production to a wireless phone company.

Malone praised AT&T CEO John Stankey for ending this integrated experiment, which some observers have questioned since the time the deal was first announced in 2016. AT&T completed the acquisition of what was known as Time Warner in 2018 after a regulatory and legal battle.

“John Stankey was very brave in making this decision at that point because he found himself really hunting down two capital-intensive and very competitive rabbits,” said Malone.

Stankey replaced Randall Stephenson as CEO of AT&T in July 2020. He has served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Operations.

« [Stankey’s] Malone said the idea of ​​refocusing AT&T on its core and traditional business and allowing other CEOs to continue, with a different track record, the direct consumer opportunity was a brave move.

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