The largest media merger in history has been approved. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has allowed the deal to go through, with no strings attached.
The very future of the telecom/media industry hung in the balance today as they awaited a ruling that could affect many if not most well known media brands.
AT&T will now own all of Time Warner, including President Trump’s “favorite” network, CNN. Which was a topic of much debate in the court. Many analysts were thinking that the court would rule in favor of the merger, but Time Warner might have had to sell off some Turner properties like CNN and it’s other TV channels. Not the case! Time Warner said that was not a possibility in the beginning, because to them it felt like the President was targeting CNN unfairly.
Indeed Michael Cohen’s involvement with AT&T was another quagmire all it’s own in the case. That apparently had no weight on the judge’s decision. It is not clear if AT&T got their money’s worth from Cohen, as the ruling was in favor of them, but now they own brands that are toxic in the President’s eyes.
A good analogy that the judge liked was that this was survival of the fittest. Even with the merger, AT&T needs to play catch up with other media companies like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix in the streaming sector, but they now hold a competitive position in the field.
It paves way for new media consolidations (which is part of what this blog covers) Comcast is set to bid for 21st Century Fox in the next couple of days. Sprint is set to merge with T-Mobile, and CBS wants to merge with Viacom. Now all these deals seem poised to happen in the next few years with the looming threat of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google. Would these tech companies scoop up one of the smaller players? Like Lionsgate or SONY? How about one of the bigger players?
Apple is the one who has the most money to do this and there were rumors it was looking at Netflix
Amazon has been on somewhat of a TV revolution as of late, and it might want to pick up some of these franchises of it’s own. Jeff Bezos is already establishing a media empire with the Washington Post and by saving TV shows like The Expanse, and perhaps Lucifer too!
But when all is said and done, these media mergers might not mean a thing. The traditional companies have outmatched market caps and resources compared to the streamers who are giving consumers more options than ever before. It may be a sigh of relief to the telecom/media industry for now, but a temporary stop gap at best.