Monster merger

The Warner-Discovery deal and the future of streaming

To survive online, media firms are combining

ONE OF THE biggest hits of recent years on Discovery’s cable television network is “90 Day Fiancé”, a reality show that follows the fortunes of couples in America on K-1 visas. A condition of the visa is that the pair must marry within three months, or else leave the country. Many of the show’s romances are rocky. But the couples—and riveted viewers—realise that, unless they tie the knot in time, deportation awaits.

On May 17th Discovery announced that it was to form a marriage of necessity of its own, joining forces with WarnerMedia, which is to be spun off from its owner, AT&T, a telecoms giant. Combined, the two companies will form the world’s second-largest media group by revenue, behind only Disney. Their hope is that this scale will allow them to survive an existential battle for viewers that makes “Godzilla vs. Kong” look like cautious cuddling.

The announcement is a Hollywood plot twist for show business. It has already caused speculation about further mergers, as panicked media companies seek their own partners before it…