Monday’s news of AT&T merging WarnerMedia with Discovery sent waves across the industry. The sports sector pays particular attention to it with a big role to play in the streaming wars. Sportico chatted with media consultants Ed Desser and Pat Crakes on how the merger could change sports rights in the future.
“It shows that sport is still important – and will continue to matter – in a major way,” the president of Desser Sports Media told Sportico. “You can’t really have a streaming service with broad appeal without a cross section of key sports.”
AT&T sold its media assets just three years after its acquisition of Time Warner for $ 84 million. The deal slated to close next year includes a mix of CNN, TNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, HBO and the streaming service HBO Max. Discovery’s assets combined with these properties would create the second-largest media company behind Disney.
All of this as sports media rights continue to rise in value in a shattered entertainment space. Netflix has recognized the past decade by injecting original content onto the platform. It’s nothing more original than live sports, but Desser said, âIt’s not in their DNAâ to pursue them.
Crakes was a bit more bullish on the outlook, but said it should be a one-time setup. “The most efficient way to do this is [for Netflix] get together with someone else. It seems complicated to make acquisitions fairly quickly because the content is just not available, âCrakes told Sportico.
The industry is torn over what the future may hold for live sports rights. There has been a slight movement with NFL rights this year and a big change from NBC to ESPN and TNT for the NHL. While this merger will be completed in 2022, the new company will have a few years before it has the chance to close a large number of deals.
The college football, NCAA, NASCAR, Big Ten, and PAC-12 playoffs all expire in 2024. A tectonic shift away from ESPN, CBS, and FOX may not be likely, but it’s on the radar in this. media environment.