Warner Bros. Discovery in Talks to Merge With Paramount Global

The discussions come less than 2 years after the merger that created WBD

Paramount Warner Bros. Discovery
Paramount/Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery is in talks to merge with Paramount Global, TheWrap has learned.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav met with Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish on Tuesday in New York City to discuss the potential for a merger of the two legendary Hollywood conglomerates. The two met at Paramount’s offices in Times Square.

Zaslav has also spoken this week to Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of Paramount Global through the parent company National Amusements, according to this individual. The two media moguls have a longstanding relationship and meet for dinner a few times a year.

Paramount Global, which comprises the historic Hollywood Paramount studio, CBS, the streaming service Paramount+, cable properties MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and others, has been rumored to be ripe for either sale or merger, with the company weighed down by legacy cable properties, and persistently low stock.

Paramount’s stock price is down 17.4% in the past year (and a stunning 64% over the past five years) due to advertising revenue slides tied to its linear businesses including CBS and cable channels like MTV and Nickelodeon. Meanwhile its streaming operation continues to operate at a loss, and has more ground to make up than its legacy media rivals’ platforms.

Paramount Global 2023 Year to Date Stock Chart
Paramount Global 2023 Year to Date Stock Chart — via CNBC

Skydance was reported to be exploring a purchase of Redstone’s controlling interest in Paramount (which briefly drove higher the stock price for Paramount), while talks of an Apple/Paramount merger have also persisted.

Warner Bros. Discovery had no comment. Paramount did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

A WBD/Paramount merger would be the latest consolidation of Hollywood power, although many have previously thought this would be unlikely because Warner only merged with Discovery two years ago.

In 2019, Disney bought out 21st Century’s assets to become an even bigger behemoth, while Amazon recently purchased legacy studio MGM and of course Warner Bros. Discovery was formed in 2022 when Discovery merged with WarnerMedia.

According to a knowledgeable individual, the most likely scenario would be an all stock deal to merge the two companies, with Warner taking the lead. Paramount has a market cap of $10 billion, while WBD has a market cap of $28.4 billion.

Warner already had a significant debt load of $44 billion which would make a cash deal of any kind unlikely.

If a merger happens, it would bring together Warner Bros. Discovery, the company that is home to the DC Comics-based cinematic universe as well as one of the more storied libraries in Hollywood, with Paramount Global, home to the “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Transformers” franchises.

The merger would also likely bring together the Max and Paramount+ streaming services in a bid to combat Netflix’s dominance.

Paramount’s stock climbed earlier this month on reports that Skydance Media CEO David Ellison and RedBird Capital were considering a play for control of the company,

In recent months, Paramount sold publisher Simon & Schuster to investment firm KKR for $1.62 billion and its majority stake in Bellator to the Professional Fighters League for an undisclosed amount. In March, the company began exploring a sale of its majority stake of BET, but later reversed course.

Axios first reported news of the talks.


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