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AT&T drops $109 billion on Game of Thrones

AT&T can’t wait until next summer for its next hit of dragons, death and dumplings so it decided to buy GoT-owner Time Warner for $108.7 billion.

Scott Bicheno

October 23, 2016

2 Min Read
AT&T drops $109 billion on Game of Thrones

AT&T can’t wait until next summer for its next hit of dragons, death and dumplings so it decided to buy GoT-owner Time Warner for $108.7 billion.

As rumoured late last week the fashion on the other side of the pond is very much for operator groups to buy venerable content businesses in order to sweeten their multiplay pots. On top of adding value to their dumb pipes, owning content offers margin, diversification and customer loyalty potential benefits, but it’s not cheap.

The bill for Time Warner, which owns premium content company HBO (maker of Game of Thrones), Turner, Warner Bros and DC comics among many choice content-makers, is $85.4 billion for the company, plus a hefty $23.3 billion of debt. The equity will be paid for half in cash and half in stock, giving Time Warner shareholders a 15% stake in AT&T.

“This is a perfect match of two companies with complementary strengths who can bring a fresh approach to how the media and communications industry works for customers, content creators, distributors and advertisers,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Premium content always wins. It has been true on the big screen, the TV screen and now it’s proving true on the mobile screen. We’ll have the world’s best premium content with the networks to deliver it to every screen.

“A big customer pain point is paying for content once but not being able to access it on any device, anywhere. Our goal is to solve that. We intend to give customers unmatched choice, quality, value and experiences that will define the future of media and communications.

“With great content, you can build truly differentiated video services, whether it’s traditional TV, OTT or mobile. Our TV, mobile and broadband distribution and direct customer relationships provide unique insights from which we can offer addressable advertising and better tailor content. It’s an integrated approach and we believe it’s the model that wins over time.”

That’s a refreshingly comprehensive and cliché-free acquisition canned-quote from Stephenson. It’s all about ubiquitous delivery of premium content which, as he said, is something consumers have increasingly come to expect. This strategy puts AT&T into direct competition with the likes of Netflix but that may well be preferable to Verizon’s decision to take on Google, Facebook, etc in the digital advertising game. AT&T’s shares were trending down on the rumours on Friday but tomorrow will reveal what investors really think of this move.

 

Image owned by HBO/Time Warner/AT&T, etc.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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