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Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Dismisses Comcast Acquisition Rumors: ‘We Are Not For Sale’

David Satin

If Comcast really is in the market for another streaming service after selling its stake in Hulu to Disney in 2024, it may have to look somewhere besides HBO Max and discovery+. According to Deadline, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav addressed a company-wide town hall meeting via Zoom on Wednesday and stated flatly, “We are not for sale, absolutely, not for sale.”

The speculation about a possible Comcast-WBD merger dates back to the summer of 2021, when Zaslav and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts met at the Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference. The rumors began to swirl again in mid-September when a report suggested that after the regulatory period for Discovery’s acquisition of WarnerMedia ends in 2024, Comcast would be interested in purchasing. the combined company.

While this type of deal could not happen for nearly a year and a half, that hasn’t stopped rumors. Of course things can change in that period of time, and Zaslav’s comments could just be public posturing for Wall Street, company morale, or political reasons, if Roberts is actually investigating a purchase of WBD, he at least has an answer for the time being.

The speculation regarding WBD’s status has been intensified by Zaslav’s corporate practices since taking over. The $43 billion merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery brought with it a mandate for Zaslav to find $3 billion in savings across the company, which has led to the well-publicized shelving of the film “Batgirl” and the cutting of shows and content from HBO Max’s library.

HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys offered more context for the changes at HBO Max, explaining that Netflix’s subscription losses emphasized to everyone in the industry that the market was not only saturated, but more feeble than it had been in the height of the COVID pandemic. That market insecurity led to hard choices about investing in content people were watching the most, Bloys said.

Despite those trials, Zaslav is forging ahead with confidence. “We have the strongest hand in the industry,” Zaslav told employees, according to THR. “We have everything we need to be successful to be the biggest entertainment media company in the world.”

There may be reason for Zaslav’s increased confidence. THR also reported that WBD CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels was quoted earlier this month that WBD had already achieved $2-3 billion in savings, so the worst may be over in the company’s content bloodletting. HBO also has a ratings juggernaut in “House of The Dragon,” which is helping set viewership records across platforms.

On the other hand, 30% of the company’s ad-sales staff was laid off recently, and more layoffs in the department are expected. Those employees join numerous other departures as WBD intensifies its streamlining efforts. However, for the employees who remain, if Zaslav is to be taken at his word, they will be staying right where they’re at for the foreseeable future.

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