Telecom giant AT&T has wasted no time, completing its long-in-the-works acquisition of media company Time Warner two days after a federal court judge approved the deal without any restrictions. The Federal Trade Commission had tried to block the transaction on anti-trust grounds. (Some, apparently including Time Warner, suspected that President Trump’s animus toward its CNN operation was a factor.)
AT&T paid $85.4 billion for Time Warner, which owns HBO, CNN, and other cable networks. The company is now starting to detail how it will organize the Time Warner assets under the AT&T umbrella.
“The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner are first-rate,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in a statement. “Combine all that with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience.”
“We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors, and advertisers,” Stephenson said.
AT&T will now comprise four main parts: AT&T Communications (mobile and wireline broadband services), the as-yet-to-be-named media business (containing the Time Warner networks), AT&T International (all services and networks outside the U.S.), and AT&T’s as-yet-to-be-named advertising and analytics business.
The general strategy behind the Time Warner acquisition is to add significant media assets to AT&T’s existing distribution networks, and layer in a data-driven advertising operation that can tailor specific ads to specific customers.
AT&T’s court victory is widely expected to touch off a wave of consolidation, pairing distribution, media, and advertising companies. The first to move is Comcast, which is trying to best Disney’s existing bid for much of 21st Century Fox. There will be others to come.