As 2022 dawns, the Justice Department’s long-awaited decision on the Discovery/ WarnerMedia/ AT&T merger shines most brightly on the entertainment industry’s horizon.
Few, if any, experts believe the merger will not go forward. Even a casual observer of Discovery Chairman (and potential future CEO of the expected Discovery/ WarnerMedia marriage) David Zaslav's behavior at Beverly Hills’ Polo Lounge would conclude that all systems are go for government approval of the long-anticipated deal.
Discovery/ WarnerMedia is a bellwether of more consolidation to come, as legacy entertainment companies such as The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom/CBS (home of brands as diverse as Paramount Pictures and BET) and Lionsgate eyeball a future where they're either the target of acquisition or the buyers themselves.
Some may question downgrading The Walt Disney Company to a stable of "next tier" entertainment labels, but in a world where Apple, Netflix, Amazon and Tesla/SpaceX could easily gobble up any of the legacy entertainment ventures, nothing's off the table.
As gaming and gambling revenues continue to dwarf quaint, 20th century consumer pleasures such as movie and episodic content consumption, look for unusual mergers and acquisitions where unexpected corporate giants seek to add "Hollywood" to a much larger portfolio of diverse assets, once unimaginable together.
If 2020 and 2021 were notable for being the era of the “Streaming Wars,” look to 2022 and beyond to be remembered for The Age of Unexpected Partnerships.
One thing is certain, in Hollywood, nothing ever remains constant.