Broadcasts from almost every major professional and college sport could be impacted by the union of two of the biggest companies in media and entertainment.
Multiple outlets are reporting that Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery are holding early talks about a merger that would have wide-reaching implications for live sports rights in the U.S. The two companies already work together in sports around March Madness, which is broadcasted annually by Paramount’s CBS and WBD’s trio of TBS, TNT and TruTV.
Together, the two companies have (or are acquiring) live broadcast rights to the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR, Big Ten Conference and the aforementioned men’s basketball NCAA Tournament. Streaming (exclusive broadcasts and simulcasts) have become an integral part of both companies’ sports strategies. During a meeting on Tuesday, combining the Paramount+ and Max services was reportedly discussed by WBD CEO David Zaslav and Paramount CEO Bob Bakish.
As of close of business on Wednesday, WBD’s market cap was $28.43 billion, compared to $10.3 billion for Paramount. It’s unclear what the terms of any merger deal would be.
Impact on NBA Talks?
The biggest question mark for either company’s sports interests right now is WBD’s NBA deal, which expires after the 2024-25 season. Combining the vast sports assets of CBS could give WBD more flexibility in crafting its strategy as the NBA begins negotiations for its next package in 2024.