What Does WarnerMedia/Discovery Merger (WMD) Mean For DC Comics?
Yes what is up with DC Comics? Because AT&T is merging WarnerMedia and HBO Max with Discovery Inc, looking to spin it off into a new mega-multimedia streaming company and make bank. We will find out the new company's name later this week but Bleeding Cool really, really wants it to be WMD. We've made a logo (below) and everything. So what will this mean for DC Comics? Because at Bleeding Cool that is all we care about here. And reportage has had scant mention of DC, rather mentioning CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, Warner Bros, TLC, Animal Planet, and more.
Basically, it comes down to AT&T spending $85 billion on buying Time Warner and it would like some of that back now, please – $43 billion worth, it seems, with AT&T shareholders getting stock in the new company (look, let's just call it WMD for now) at 71%. There have definitely been conflicts within the company after the purchase. AT&T would like to see HBO create content to compete with Netflix and Amazon rather than just high-end scripted series. AT&T wanted to boost its phone business and so combined HBO, Warner Bros and its DC Universe app and Turner Broadcasting into HBO Max. Merging WarnerMedia with Discovery is part of the same attempt to streamline, rationalise and find new audiences. As the battle to be the third streaming service below Netflix and Disney continues, between Amazon, Apple, Comcast, AT&T/HBO Max, ViacomCBS and Discovery.
And now WMD gets to combine two of those compete in areas where they don't have much experience, and brings HBOMax unscripted programming they have been lacking in, while giving those Discovery shows far greater reach. With Discovery CEO David Zaslav taking over from WarnerMedia's James Kilar and run whatever WMD multimedia beast comes out from all these meetings before selling it to the highest bidder. DC Comics will be a teensy, tiny aspect of all that.
Being part of WMD, a company specifically devoted to media could be a plus for DC Comics, but any change in ownership usually leads to a period of disruption…and the DC team's had way too much of that in recent years. And with regulatory approvals needed, we are still looking at at at least a year to negotiate the deal, put new bosses in place, and maybe, just maybe, wonder what the hell they are going to do with this comic book publisher they own. Zaslav says that his "number one priority" is building up "relationships with the creative community," which sounds nice, but could mean anything. Especially as he added that the new company "will not stop until we have the No. 1 global entertainment company, reaching people on every device."
This is the kind of change that sees many people suspecting that the company will just close DC Comics down, maybe license off the rights if they are lucky. But it may well be that DC Comics is just too small to bother with. It has been cut to the bone by Daniel Cherry III in terms of editorial staff, and resources. And yet still doing well in the marketplace, courtesy of EIC Marie Javins flying the whole thing by the seat of her pants. It may be far more of a bother to do anything with DC Comics unless it actually becomes a problem – like having a cannabis entrepreneur in a senior marketing position.
AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey has recently been selling off a lot of company assets to reduce debt and predicted resources to its 5G wireless network. Was it wise for DC Comics to rename and rejig their own 5G relaunch to become Future State and Infinite Frontier? Look, he'll never notice, it's fine. And we won't tell. Just… can they please, please, please call the new company WMD? If nothing else, you won't forget it…
And of course, some have noted that David Zaslov worked at Universal for a couple of decades before joining Discovery Inc. So if Universal wanted to buy WMD from AT&T, they have an in…