Discovery Shareholders Approve WarnerMedia Merger, Clearing Final Major Hurdle

The deal is expected to close next month

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The merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery into what will be called Warner Bros. Discovery is on track to close as early as next month, after the last major hurdle standing in the way of the union was cleared this morning.

Discovery shareholders voted Friday morning to approve the merger with WarnerMedia, which is expected to radically reshape the media landscape. Discovery said the deal is expected to close early in the second quarter, with sources eyeing a likely April date.

Discovery chairman and CEO David Zaslav—who will lead the combined company—said during last month’s fourth quarter earnings call that the merger would likely close head of the upfront. Discovery shareholder approval was the final hurdle in the path of the merger; WarnerMedia parent company AT&T does not need shareholder approval for the merger and the deal received U.S. antitrust clearance last month.

The two companies will be combining their media assets, WarnerMedia and Discovery, to create a new streaming-centric media company. Discovery+ debuted in January of last year, and the company reported 22 million global direct-to-consumer subscribers in the fourth quarter—which includes Discovery+ and other platforms.

On the WarnerMedia front, HBO and HBO Max combined for 73.8 million subscribers globally at the end of the year, and HBO Max alone increased to 46.8 million, up 5.3 million for the full year.

“I’ve been for many, many years in deep envy of Warner Brothers TV,” Zaslav said during last month’s earnings call. “It’s probably the best and largest producer of quality content, TV content in the world.”

AT&T ‘looking forward’ to post-merger strategy

AT&T shareholders will receive stock representing 71% of the new company and Discovery shareholders will own 29% of the new company. The board of directors from both companies have approved the deal.

As the Discovery shareholder vote was taking place Friday morning, AT&T held an investors day during which that company set its new strategy following its imminent exit from entertainment space. “Today, we’re focused on looking forward,” said CEO John Stankey. “We have stated our intent to focus and simplify our company, improve our returns and become America’s best broadband provider.”

WarnerMedia also said Friday morning that upcoming streaming service CNN+ will debut on March 29. It will cost $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. Early subscribers that sign up within the first four weeks after March 29 directly with CNN+ will have access to what the company is calling a “Deal of a Lifetime,” or half off the monthly plan—for life— as long as they remain subscribers.

No word yet on if or how Warner Bros. Discovery will combine or bundle its streaming offerings. Zaslav previously talked about “our eventual merged offering,” but did not elaborate on details.