Monday night, at the Wall Street Journal‘s WSDLive conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he had no objection to the deal of AT&T purchasing Time Warner if AT&T respected the tenets of net neutrality.
“I think AT&T is going to be very aggressive about building a national competitor to all of the cable companies, like Direct has been from the satellite technology, and if they pull that off, that would be in the consumers’ interest,” Hastings said.
He also said that as long as the combined entity treated Netflix the same as it treated its own content, he would be satisfied. “We really want to make sure that to the consumer, to the system, that basically it doesn’t give an unfair advantage to HBO over Netflix. If it’s open competition, we love that.”
As the CEO of the leading independent Internet video service, Hastings’ opinion matters. In 2014, he opposed Comcast’s attempt to buy Time Warner Cable because he feared the combined company would have a strong incentive to discriminate against Netflix. He was not alone. DirectTV also expressed opposition to the potential buyout. Regulators felt the same way and the deal was blocked 2015.
On Sunday it was announced that AT&T has finalized a lucrative deal to purchase film distribution giant, Time Warner, for $84 billion, an acquisition move that portrays the telecommunication giant’s drive to tap into reputable TV and film content for both diversification and penetration of the business of providing modern-day Internet access.
AT&T and the acquired firm, Time Warner, confirmed (in a cash-and-stock deal) that AT&T will buy Time Warner’s stock at $107.50 per share. Time Warner has a diverse media portfolio, including HBO, TNT, CNN, Warner Bros., TBS, Bleacher Report, theme parks, and Hulu. Both companies’ boards approved the deal and expect it to close before 2017 comes to an end.
Jeff Bewkes, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, said that partnering with AT&T is a move that will allow the two to innovate faster and deliver more value to their customers along with marketing and distribution partners. AT&T’s growth strategy seeks to evolve the company’s main business lines, which are providing wireless and Internet services.
AT&T also plans to compete with Amazon and Netflix in the near future by offering its own video-streaming services. Customers should get ready for the grand launch, as AT&T has been busy signing lucrative deals with content providers, and their newly acquired business venture, Time Warner, has programming that will provide a major boost in the brand new show lineup of services.
AT&T Chairman and CEO Mr. Randall Stephenson said that it was a perfect match of two corporations with complementary strengths to bring synergy and a fresh approach to how the communications and media industry works for clients, distributors, advertisers, and content creators. The deal, once approved by industry regulators, will become a significant acquisition in the telcom-media sector.
This also shows AT&T’s drive and ambition to acquire and control large market shares in both distribution and content businesses, a prospective move that is sure to trigger scrutiny and major concerns among consumer rights advocates and federal regulators.
Looking ahead towards the future, Hastings said Netflix will continue to focus on movies and TV shows. “No sports, no news,” he said.