WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. merge while top Warner execs resign


Rodrigo SEPÚLVEDA SCHULZ | flickr.com

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

WarnerMedia LLC and Discovery Inc. officially merged on April 8 as part of a $43 billion acquisition that took Warner off of former parent company AT&T Inc.’s hands, resulting in a new company called Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.

AT&T initially entered the entertainment and streaming industries in 2014 when it bought DirectTV, which it has since sold. The telecom business then started to acquire WarnerMedia, known as Time Warner Inc., in 2016, but the $85 billion deal wasn’t completed until 2018.

By selling WarnerMedia, AT&T is removing itself from the content industry and allowing two of the largest content businesses to combine.

Warner Bros. Discovery will be headed up by Discovery CEO David Zaslav. The other C-suite positions will also be held by Discovery executives, resulting in a group resignation of WarnerMedia higher-ups who seemingly had not known that the merger would  lead to their demotions.

The most notable WarnerMedia executive who resigned was former Warner CEO Jason Kilar, who joined the company only two years ago in May 2020 and resigned effective April 8.

“Leading this team has been the honor of my lifetime,” Kilar wrote in a memo to WarnerMedia staff last week. “My heart is so full, and I am beyond thankful to each of you. There is no better team on the planet, and I will savor every last step as I wander the lot in Burbank several more times this week, with this team on my mind, always.”

Kilar had a big hand in the success of Warner’s streaming service HBO Max. Distribution arrangements with Amazon.com Inc. and Roku Inc. and the release of popular shows like “Euphoria” under Kilar’s leadership brought the company up to 73.8 million subscribers internationally.

He was also around for the start of CNN+, the recently launched news streaming service from CNN, owned by WarnerMedia.

The merging of WarnerMedia and Discovery will eventually lead to the combination of CNN+ and Discovery+, Discovery’s nonfiction streaming service.

Additionally, Kilar headed the company through troubled CNN times, including the firing of popular anchor Chris Cuomo over a scandal involving his brother.

Kilar was also around for the resignations of former CNN President Jeff Zucker and former CNN Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Allison Gollust over their consensual, nondisclosed relationship.

Other WarnerMedia employees who resigned recently include WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group CEO Ann Sarnoff, HBO Max General Manager Andy Forssell, Executive Vice President of Communications and Chief Inclusion Officer Christy Haubegger, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Tony Goncalves, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jim Cummings, Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jim Meza and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom.