Impact in Australia if Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount pursued a merger


Streaming market upheaval plus impact for local production companies and Warner Bros Discovery partners

Global media giants Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global in merger talks

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav met with Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish on Tuesday in New York City to discuss a possible merger, US news site Axios has reported.

Media reporter Sara Fischer said: WBD’s market value was around US$29 billion as of Wednesday, while Paramount’s was just over US$10 billion, so any merger would not be of equals.

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A merger would help both companies compete with streaming platforms Netflix and Disney+, reports The Telegraph (republished in The SMH). Both companies’ existing streaming platforms, Paramount+ and Max, have so far struggled to make serious ground against competitors.

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How The Wall Street Journal reported merger talks on its front page

Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global are likely to be “worse off” together as a merger will leave them billions deeper in debt and saddled with dying traditional television assets, Wall Street analysts said on Thursday, reports Reuters.

Shares of both companies extended losses after dropping sharply a day earlier on news that their CEOs had met to discuss a potential deal.

The merger would create what analysts said would be the largest movie studio in Hollywood and a streaming business with the third-highest US subscribers. The firms together would also account for up to 40% of total time viewed on traditional TV.

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Warner Bros Discovery-Paramount merger impact in Australia

The ramifications of a merger between the two companies would be significant in Australia. A likely consequence would be the global merger of the streaming platforms Max and Paramount+. Max has not yet launched in Australia, but it was anticipated it could have been a new player in the market here during 2025.

Paramount+ bills itself as Australia’s fastest-growing streaming platform, with Telsyte reporting it had 1.5m subscribers as at June 30, 2023. Back then it ranked equal fifth in terms of most subscribers, sitting alongside Binge.

See also: Telsyte streaming report – Paramount+ fastest growing, Netflix reports first YOY drop

A key ingredient to the Max content library is HBO content. As to the possible launch of Max in Australia, Mediaweek reported earlier this year: “With Foxtel securing HBO content until 2025, there is no prospect of Max launching in Australia before then.”

When asked mid-year by Mediaweek about Max launching locally, managing director and head of studios for Warner Bros Discovery ANZ, Michael Brooks said: “There is no specific timeline for the market launch [of Max] in Australia however it is not in our plans for 2024.”


Michael Brooks

See also: Warner Bros. Discovery on local production plans and possible Max launch date

A merger of the companies could see Max replace Paramount+, with feature content from the pipelines of both studio groups making it a serious competitor to other bigger local players Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Stan.

If Warner Bros Discovery took control of Network 10 it would mean 10 has access to the local production powerhouse Warner Bros. International Television Productions (WBITP). The production business already has strong links with 10, making The Bachelor, The Masked Singer and Betoota Advocate.

FBoy Island is a local production made for Binge

WBITP also has links with Foxtel where it supplies the programs Love Me, The Twelve, FBoy Island and Selling Houses Australia.

There could also be a chance that Foxtel could keep some or all of the HBO content if Max and Paramount+ came together.

Why Is Shari Redstone, ruler of a vast media kingdom, weighing a sale?

Shari Redstone is weighing a sale of her family’s controlling interest in Paramount’s parent company just five years after she won a fight to retain control of her family’s media empire, reports The New York Times.

Paramount was once so mighty that people in Hollywood referred to it by the nickname “the Mountain,” a reference to its logo of a snow-capped peak encircled by stars.

But these days, the company is more of a melting iceberg.

Paramount+ has a 6 percent share of the revenue market, while Netflix has 47 percent and Disney’s streaming services have a combined 23 percent.

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