Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has been going all-in on cutting costs to alleviate its roughly $53 billion debt. But with uncertain financial prospects, the company might find itself in another merger – with Comcast – per a Friday report from The Hollywood Reporter.
The report suggested Comcast CEO Brian Roberts could be interested in combining WBD with NBCUniversal, giving the cable giant access to a well-known streaming service in the form of HBO Max.
“Obviously Peacock sucks,” one exec familiar with both companies told THR. “There are some good synergies. I’m sure [Roberts] is licking his chops because the [WBD] stock is so low. And I think that’s Zaslav’s endgame. Get the place sold.”
If a Comcast-WBD deal were in the works, negotiations likely wouldn’t happen until April 2024, THR’s Kim Masters wrote, “for reasons related to the complicated structure of that merger.”
Fierce reached out to WBD for comment and will update with any new information.
CNN+ was the first step in WBD’s cost-cutting initiative. WBD shuttered the streaming service just one month after its launch.
WBD doesn't just want to reduce content spend, it reportedly plans to slash its global ad sales team by 30%. The company has stated it aims to achieve $3 billion in annual cost savings.
But WBD’s efforts to lighten its debt load is easier said than done, according to a recent Bloomberg Intelligence report.
Analysts wrote in the report WBD “faces daunting challenges, including a messier-than-expected merger, and a cut to Ebitda guidance amplifies anxieties around its $53 billion debt load.”
However, the company is seeing noticeable mileage with HBO Max’s premiere of “House of the Dragon,” which garnered nearly 10 million U.S. viewers on its opening night.
Less than a week after the first episode aired, HBO renewed the “Game of Thrones” prequel for a second season. “House of the Dragon’s” first season, comprised of 10 episodes, reportedly cost $200 million.
As for Comcast, it recently expressed interest in buying out Hulu from Disney. Comcast currently owns a 33% stake in the streaming platform.
Disney in turn has said it wants to purchase Comcast’s stake in 2024 or earlier. Having full ownership of Hulu means Disney could further integrate the service into its streaming bundle.