Jason Kilar Kicks Off WarnerMedia Upfront With “Business As Usual” Promise As Discovery Merger Begins

By Dominic Patten, Jill Goldsmith

WarnerMedia

Whatever the future hold for Jason Kilar, the current WarnerMedia CEO wasn’t about to let what is surely his last Upfronts pass him by.

Kicking off the pre-recorded virtual hootenanny with Leslie Odam Jr. Issa Rae, sports, CNN and even a talk show team-up of Bill Maher, Elmo and Samantha Bee, Kilar appeared on-camera to address the corporate elephant in the room,

“With the important news made by both our company AT&T and Discovery on Monday, together we will form a new company super serving our advertisers with the promise to unite WarnerMedia’s brands with Discovery’s brands all under one banner,” the executive said, in a video that was clearly hastily shot in the prior 24 hours.

“While there is still so much more to come and for the moment it’s still business as usual, we wanted to take a moment and thank you for your continued partnership,” Kilar added, just a year into his controversy-filled CEO gig.

Finalized this past weekend with Kilar distinctly out of the loop, the big bucks WarnerMedia and Discovery deal is expected to close in the middle of next year pending regulatory approvals. The $43 billion transaction hit Hollywood after a weekend of 11th hour talks.

The new as-yet-unnamed entity will be see Discovery boss David Zaslav as chief executive. Kilar is said to have assembled a legal team to negotiate his exit in the near future. The CEO was one of the highest paid in all of media last year with a package valued at $52 million – so do the exit math.

While a surprise in its speed, the agreement is a reversal for A&T, which acquired Time Warner assets in 2018 and is now divesting the entire business to focus on voice and broadband. It catapults unscripted TV czar Zaslav to the top of Hollywood food chain. It’s also destabilized the entertainment ecosystem at bit, spurring talk of more mega-deal dominoes falling as the streaming battle stakes skyrocket and players are pressured to ante up.

The combined businesses will have an estimated $52 billion in revenue, including $15 billion from streaming. They currently spend — and indications from execs are that they will continue to spend — about $20 billion on combined content across all divisions. The estimated “cost synergies” over several years are seen at about $3 billion. Execs talked of “duplicative” areas but weren’t specific about where they intended to find savings. Zaslav did say the two sets of assets may not overlap all that much.

The WarnerMedia upfront continues this morning.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2021/05/jason-kilar-video-warnermedia-upfront-discovery-deal-1234760135/