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AT&T / Time Warner merger set to change the landscape for genre fans

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Jun 13, 2018, 4:45 PM EDT (Updated)

Mergers and acquisitions may not immediately seem like the kind of financial moves that affect how fans watch their favorite genre shows, but when Time Warner is on the line (whose TV assets range as wide as Cartoon Network's Teen Titans Go! and The CW’s Black Lightning and whose movie library incudes everything from Harry Potter to Wonder Woman), every move matters.

So when U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon approved AT&T and Time Warner’s merger, according to The New York Times, it meant the $85 billion deal between the huge network provider and entertainment powerhouse would make for some big (and some small) changes for genre fans of all kinds.

These potential changes could impact access to premium services -- like HBO to watch Game of Thrones -- to the very substance of these shows. AT&T’s CEO has been vocal about adapting content to different kinds of viewership -- giving the example of cutting Game of Thrones down to 20 minutes. It also means more viewer data collection and analytics.

According to Deadline, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes testified that the company knows "how many people are watching” their networks, "but we don’t know their names. Our direct competitors do. …. They know all sorts of things that we don’t.” After merging with AT&T, Time Warner will have the kind of access that their digital competitors (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) already do.

The deal also likely means the bolstering of AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming service with plenty of Warner content -- similar to Disney's plan to buy most of 21st Century Fox's film and TV library to round out their content collection.

Since the Justice Department’s suit has been overruled, other potential entertainment industry mergers, ones that were put on the back burner after seeing this one stall, may be moving forward. That means the Disney plan as well as the potential Comcast-Fox deal (which Deadline predicts will advance shortly) will follow in this merger’s path -- even if the Justice Department appeals.