A theoretical WarnerDiscovery+ViacomCBS is more plausible than Disney getting bigger at this point.The second proposed tie-up in the article, WarnerDiscovery+ViacomCBS, is an interesting one. It would give them two broadcast nets, CBS and The CW (which is currently jointly owned by those two separate companies). CBS News could be merged into CNN. (Imagine seeing the CBS eye icon as part of the CNN logo. Perhaps the CNN acronym would come to stand for "CBS News Network" instead of "Cable News Network".) I suppose Showtime would just be absorbed into HBO Max, with its subscriber base converted over. And for that matter, I guess Paramount+ would be absorbed into HBO Max too. Throw in all that Discovery+ content and, man, what a content bundle! Pluto TV might live on as the company's free ad-supported service.
These areas would most likely go through without change:
- Broadcast/Over-the-air Networks: The FCC only has a ownership cap on the 4 highest rated networks (ABC, CBS, Fox & NBC). The Big 4 can't be owned by the same company which is why Fox network went with Fox Corporation. Fox Corporation also owns MyNetworkTV (which is the 6th highest rated network and was created as a replacement for WB/UPN affiliates left out of The CW.) A merged WarnerDiscovery+ViacomCBS can fully own The CW alongside CBS since old Viacom (before the breakup) and CBS Corporation owned 100% of CBS & UPN.
- Sports: Since CBS Sports Network is not a highly rated national sports network this combined entity could easily keep AT&T/WM's 16% stake in MLB Network, operational control over NBA TV and the 4 AT&T SportsNet RSNs. All this would do is unify the rights of March Madness under 1 company.
- News: Since CBS News does not have a traditional linear network (unlike NBC News & MSNBC) the combined company most likely will be allowed to keep CNN, HLN & CNN International in their current form or place them under CBS News.
- Movie Studios: The combined company should be able to own both Warner Bros & Paramount given Disney kept their studios and now owns 20th Century Fox. Paramount is smaller than 20th Century Fox before the Disney acquisition.
- Traditional linear channels: In short WarnerMedia owns 5 entertainment channels (i.e. TBS, TNT, TCM, TruTV, Adult Swim). Discovery owns 16 English channels (i.e. Discovery, TLC, HGTV, Animal Plant, OWN, Travel and more). ViacomCBS owns over 20 channels (BET plus 5 sister networks, Comedy Central, CMT, Logo, MTV plus MTV2 and 3 more sister networks, Paramount Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, TV Land, VH1.) This is not counting their premium, kids & Spanish channels.
- A merged WarnerMedia-Discovery will own 21 English entertainment channels with TBS & TNT being the most expensive outside of sports. A combined WM-Disovery & ViacomCBS would defiantly have to divest some of these as the FCC/DOJ will not allow 1 company to own over 40+ entertainment channels especially in areas where they overlap. Like either TBS (which is comedy based) or Comedy Central would have to go. Same goes for OWN & BET one needs to be divested.
- The alternate option would be a requirement to force a combined WM-Discovery & ViacomCBS not to pull channels during a contract dispute instead go to arbitration through the FCC. A secondary requirement could require the combined company to keep the legacy WM networks, legacy Discovery networks & ViacomCBS networks on separate contracts with MVPDs/vMVPDs.
- Kids channels: Disney Channel, Cartoon Network & Nickelodeon are the Big 3 of this area in terms of carriage fees & ratings. The FCC/DOJ most likely won't let 1 conglomerate own more than 1 of the Big 3 Kids Channels. WM-Discovery should have no issue keeping Cartoon Network/Boomerang and Discovery Family. However a divesture would most likely occur between Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon if a WM-Discovery & ViacomCBS merger would to occur.
- Premium Services: HBO, Showtime & Starz are often seen as the Big 3. Given how competitive HBO & Showtime are one of these could be targeted by the DOJ to be divested.
- Streaming Services: This could be the first mega merger to cause the DOJ to examine how competitive the overall streaming landscape is since WM owns HBO Max & Boomerang. Discovery owns discovery+. ViacomCBS owns Paramount+, Showtime, BET+, Noggin and PlutoTV.
- A theoretical WM-Discovery & ViacomCBS merger involves a total 8 standalone streaming services (7 paid, 1 free). HBOMax & Paramount+/Showtime are typically grouped into the same category as competitors by the press.
- WM also own Crunchyroll until the DOJ is done reviewing the Sony-AT&T deal.