Which channel is CNN on DirecTV

It was one of those decisions that are hailed as visionary, cost a lot of billions - and do not last long. Only three years ago, the American telecom group AT&T bought the media company Time Warner, paid the proud sum of more than 80 billion dollars and went into enormous debt. The idea: An entrepreneur should emerge that is big in the media as well as in the telecommunications and infrastructure business - telephone connection and content from a single source, so to speak. Time Warner (now Warner Media) includes the news channel CNN, the cable channel HBO, TNT and the Hollywood film studio Warner Bros. with cinema productions such as "Batman", "Wonder Woman" and "Harry Potter".

This strategy can be considered to have finally failed since this Monday morning. AT&T boss John Stankey announced the separation from the media business. The division is to be spun off and merged with the US media company Discovery. The latter has so far mainly focused on documentation, cooking and science shows and sports - these include broadcasters such as Animal Planet, Food Network and Eurosport, in Germany Dmax or, more recently, Tele 5. Discovery caused a sensation a few years ago as the group acquired the television rights to the Olympic Games by 2024. Major shareholder so far was John Malone, who is involved in television cable companies in the USA and internationally.

A German is also on board at a crucial point

The merger now creates a new media group with considerable weight. The combined sales are expected to be around $ 50 billion. The name of the new company will be announced soon. One thing is clear: the new company will be managed by current Discovery boss David Zaslav. A German is also on board in a crucial position: about four years ago Gunnar Wiedenfels moved to Discovery as CFO, the former McKinsey consultant had previously held the same position at the Munich television company Pro Sieben Sat 1 Media. "Our pockets are well filled," he once said in an interview with SZ.

That doesn't necessarily apply to AT&T. Because the company is heavily indebted, has to invest in building a 5G mobile network at the same time and defend itself in the USA against aggressive and successful competitors like T-Mobile US, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The separation from the media division now means a significant streamlining and a return to the actual core business, telecommunications. AT&T had only sold a stake in the television satellite operator DirecTV in February. Not an isolated case: AT&T competitor Verizon is now also parting with expensive media acquisitions, selling the online division with Internet pioneers Yahoo and AOL.

In addition, the media markets are currently changing vehemently and fundamentally. The major streaming services are very successful - not least because of the corona pandemic. Netflix has increased the number of paying subscribers to more than 200 million worldwide. Disney Plus was also very successful from the start. Customers sit on the sofa at home, can choose the program for the streaming services themselves and are therefore migrating from the linear channels and cable channels. Although HBO and HBO Max now also have almost 64 million subscribers worldwide, they cannot compete with Disney or Netflix. Together with Discovery and its approximately 88 million viewers, HBO and CNN are now more powerful and operate more independently thanks to the spin-off. CNN had recently grown significantly during the pandemic and the presidency of Donald Trump as well as in the US election campaign because the need for information has increased. The new head of the company, Zaslav, emphasized that they wanted to keep CNN and expand it.

The merger is complex: In the end, AT&T shareholders are to hold 71 percent of the new listed media company, which will then include the former Warner broadcasters and Discovery television channels, and Hollywood studio Warner Bros. will also receive AT&T $ 43 billion to reduce debt. The deal is expected to be concluded by the middle of next year. The announcement of the project caused enthusiasm at the stock exchange. Discovery shares initially rose significantly by a good ten percent, aiming for the best day in more than twelve years. AT&T gained around four percent. Netflix and Disney, on the other hand, lost slightly.