Warner Bros. Discovery' Will Be Name of Media Colossus Formed in Merger -- Update
By Benjamin Mullin
The merger of AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia unit with Discovery
Inc. won't be completed until next year, but the new company
already has a name: Warner Bros. Discovery.
Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav announced the
name during a town hall meeting Tuesday with WarnerMedia CEO Jason
Kilar. Mr. Zaslav, who will lead Warner Bros. Discovery, added that
the name is meant to evoke the company's focus on storytelling,
exemplified by the nearly century-old Warner Bros. studio.
Also during the town hall, Mr. Zaslav said the new company's
tagline will be "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of," a reference to
the classic 1941 noir film "The Maltese Falcon" starring Humphrey
Bogart and distributed by the Warner Bros. film studio. During one
scene in the movie Mr. Bogart's character, Sam Spade, refers to the
titular Maltese Falcon statuette as "the stuff that dreams are made
of," a line that riffs on a similar one in Shakespeare's "The
Mr. Zaslav said during the meeting that the company's new name
and tagline are intended to emphasize its heritage as a content
company. Under AT&T's leadership, WarnerMedia has sometimes
faced internal division over the relationship between its business
goals and its creative culture, The Wall Street Journal has
Tuesday's meeting was the first time the two executives made a
joint appearance since Discovery and AT&T announced the deal in
May. Mr. Kilar wasn't involved in early-stage negotiations between
AT&T and Discovery, leading to speculation that he might not
have a substantial role during the two companies' integration. But
last week, Mr. Kilar told employees that he would stay until the
merger is completed.
During the roughly 40-minute meeting, Mr. Zaslav said that he
would fight to keep the best people from both Discovery and
"We're not coming in here thinking that we know all the
answers," Mr. Zaslav said of his company's approach to the
acquisition. "There is a ton we don't know. And there's certainly a
whole bunch that you guys know a lot better than we do."
Mr. Zaslav also reflected on Discovery's early video-streaming
efforts, noting that the company had started with a plan to launch
many niche services before deciding to combine much of the
programming into a single offering called Discovery+.
"The consumer eventually tells you how they want to receive the
content, " he said.
One factor making video-streaming "a much more challenging
business" than cable, Mr. Zaslav said, is churn -- customers'
tendency to let their subscriptions lapse for a variety of reasons.
In traditional TV, unlike in streaming, he said, "the only churn is
when somebody turns their TV set off."
Toward the end of the meeting, as the two executives discussed
the possibilities for Warner Bros. Discovery, Mr. Zaslav said he
was excited to continue speaking with Mr. Kilar -- clarifying that
the pair would talk about the industry generally, not the merger,
which still requires regulatory approval.
Mr. Kilar laughed, adding, "There'll be lawyers all around us
for the next year."
Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 01, 2021 15:13 ET (19:13 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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