Predictions for future Media Mergers - Who will go next?

Written by Michael Maximilian Moss

London, UK, (1 July 2021)

2020/2021 has seen the normalisation of many things once perhaps perceived as peculiar – WFH is the norm, wearing masks whilst chatting to friends is standard, and swapping Covid-restricted nights out at the pub for quiet nights in with Netflix is now completely understandable.

Similarly, in the streaming world, what would once have been seen as odd, is now becoming the norm, with increasing news of more and more media mergers between powerhouse streaming services apparent. WarnerMedia and Discovery were the most recent of the giants to announce their upcoming mergence to create a monster duo, and just days ago RTL Nederland and Talpa were next to announce their mergence to form two media companies, resulting in a 40% joint market share of Dutch channels – even bigger than NPO’s share of approximately 35.5 percent last year (NLTimes, 2021).

The purpose of this move appears strategic, with shareholder and producer of the new formats, John De Mol, explaining the newly formed company has the potential to ‘compete with international tech players’, as well as allowing for more content in the form of programmes and content (NLTimes, 2021).

Competition within the streaming industry is increasingly fierce, with media mergences growingly perceived as an innovative solution to alternatively drowning in an abyss of streaming content, with even frontrunning streamers unable to stand out against competitors. 

So, who’s next? A question arguably on the minds of many at the moment, with a number of predictions already being made for the next media giants expected to form and gain their own ‘dancing partners’ (Sherman, 2021).

The first to be expected is NBCUniversal and Lionsgate. Buying Lionsgate would help NBCUniversal in two ways – firstly, the mergence would add more content to NBCUniversal’s subscription video service, Peacock, by owning the likes of Mad Men and Orange is the New Black currently owned by Lionsgate.

Secondly, NBCUniversal currently does not own any premium networks, unlike its competitors WarnerMedia (HBO) and ViaComCBS.  Lionsgate, however, currently owns the premium network Starz, which would fit very conveniently into NBC’s current portfolio.

In terms of streaming, the Starz-Peacock combination (either together or separately) would expand NBC Universal’s global aspirations effectively, with the additional plus that Lionsgate doesn’t cost much either – 3.8 billion in fact (Sherman, 2021).

The second, predicted media merge is between WarnerMedia-Discovery and ViacomCBS, despite the rumours of the future mergence between the to-be created WarnerMedia-Discovery pact and NBCUniversal. This is due to the latter deal being potentially too complicated and tax-ineffective for this partnership to occur. Regulators may also not allow CNN and MSNBC to be housed under one roof. A more rational partnership would arguably be WarnerMedia-Discovery and ViacomCBS. Unlike NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS doesn’t have a large cable network, making CNN more feasible (Sherman, 2021)

The final predicted partnership is between powerhouses Disney and AMC Networks. This may surprise some due to the plethora of content on offer from Disney itself, yet the giant is at risk of losing some of its killer content, due to Disney-owned Hulu licensing so much of its content. The partnership would therefore protect this from happening, which is of course hugely in Disney’s interest. 

The shock future partnership with Discovery and WarnerMedia has inevitably caused a major domino effect across the streaming world, with leading streamers now wrestling to gobble up smaller media companies in a fight for survival to stand out against growingly dominant international competitors. Who will go next? We wait with baited breath.

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References:

  1. NLTimes (2021) ‘RTL Nederland and Talpa to merge in major Dutch media fusion’ NL TIMES, 23 June 2021. Available at: https://nltimes.nl/2021/06/23/rtl-nederland-talpa-merge-major-dutch-media-fusion (Accessed: 29 June 2021)
  2. Sherman (2021) ‘RTL Nederland and Talpa to merge in major Dutch media fusion’ CNBC, 29 May 2021. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/29/media-mergers-whos-next-.html (Accessed: 29 June 2021)