Welcome back to The Daily Courant, our afternoon guide to what’s new at Puck.
Today, Matt Belloni previews theimminent bloodletting at Warner Bros. Discovery as David Zaslav comes under pressure from Wall Street to deliver Jack Welchian returns.
Plus, below the fold, Bill Cohan explains why the Street’s sharp heel turn on WBD has media insiders envisioning an M&A Hail Mary. Then Jon Kelly joins Peter to discuss Zaz’s latest sacrificial offerings and how Biden’s media narrative continues to lag his accomplishments.
Not a great week for the Hollywood rumor mill, right? I think the combination of industry-wide anxieties and some bad trade reporting led to a freak-out in advance of a pretty uneventful Warner Bros. Discovery reveal. No, HBO Max is not shuttering. Or pulling back from international. Or becoming a tile on Discovery+ (though I’m told one name being discussed for the planned combined streaming service is HBO Discovery). Someone actually came up to me at The Grill and asked which outlet I thought would pick up the sure-to-be-dumped Hacks. Really? An Emmy winner? I even heard from an otherwise rational person at Warners who believed the company was 100 percent selling DC, as if that made any sense.
In fact, as I noted in my Batgirldispatch, the big surprise on Thursday was the increasingly grim financial situation of the combined company as a whole. A $2 billion decline in projected EBITDA for 2023, a worsening outlook for the linear networks, and, of course, that $50-something billion in crushing debt. All entertainment companies are in a weird place right now, caught between the cratering TV business and the Great Netflix Correction. But WBD, despite all its great assets, is in an especially weird place because of its financial situation. Meaning that while Peacock might be losing nearly a half a billion dollars a quarter for Comcast, and Disney’s direct-to-consumer division bled $887 million, those companies haven’t been bought and sold multiple times in the past decade. And they’re offsetting the streaming losses with broadband and theme park profits. WBD is both smaller and more dependent on television/streaming revenue…