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Speaking during Morgan Stanley’s European Technology Media & Telecom Conference, he said that HBO Max would likely continue being available to AT&T wireless customers after the deal closes over the coming months. “I would expect that we will reach a commercial agreement to continue bundling HBO Max,” he said, without providing specifics on the potential timing, length of contract or other details. He added that this would provide a “good service for our customers,” but “also good distribution for Warner Bros. Discovery.”
The comments didn’t come as a surprise since management has said it would continue to look for entertainment and other offerings after the deal. AT&T CEO John Stankey, in unveiling the Discovery merger in May, had signaled that the telecom giant would continue to offer key content via agreements with programming partners after the mega-deal, saying: “I think we have leaned into the prospect of always using different services to provide value to the customer. And whether we owned HBO Max or not, we’d probably be continuing to look at that.”
“We feel really good about the progress of HBO Max,” Desroches also said on Wednesday. He mentioned the rollout of the streamer in parts of Europe in the current quarter in addition to good momentum in Latin America.
Asked about the impact of day-and-date movies this year that will be less common next year, the CFO said: “This is something that we know how to do.” And he added that fans would remain “enthusiastic” next year. “We feel really good about the ability to keep the momentum going.”
On Oct. 21, Stankey had said that the company continues to expect the deal to close by mid-year 2022, which Desroches reiterated on Wednesday by speaking of a close during the first half of the year as he has done before. Originally, the companies had announced a deal close in mid-2022. Asked about further clarity when during the first half it could wrap, he said there have been “no surprises” and the companies were where they had been expected to be at this stage.
“The general progress on the deal, I think, is consistent with what we would have expected as we walked into it,” Stankey said during the third-quarter earnings conference call of the telecom giant, which owns WarnerMedia. “We are moving through the steps with the various regulatory agencies, both domestically in the U.S. and outside the U.S. Those processes are moving along at the pace we would have expected.”
And Stankey added that “I don’t see any surprises,” with the “typical thorough reviews” including a back-and-forth that AT&T feels “very comfortable” with. Stankey had in the summer said that the company wants “to hit a strong exit velocity” at WarnerMedia by the time the deal close nears, “at which point the combination … only expands the … opportunities for success going forward.”
Including the WarnerMedia merger, AT&T has announced more than $55 billion worth of asset deals this year, Desroches also emphasized on Wednesday.
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