WarnerMedia Looking To Grow Live Assets Ahead Of OTT Launch
New WarnerMedia Chair of News & Sports Jeff Zucker's "mandate is to grow the company's live assets" as it "rolls out an ambitious direct-to-consumer play," according to Marisa Guthrie of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Rights deals for the NFL are coming up at ESPN after the '21 season and at CBS, Fox and NBC after the '22 season. In the meantime, sports like bowling and competitive eating are "far more likely" targets for WarnerMedia to secure rights for. Niche sports have become "hot commodities in a direct-to-consumer arms race where live programming is prized." Bleacher Report last spring launched B/R Live, and Turner Sports has been "forging deals with under-the-radar sports leagues" like the AAF, World Armwrestling League and MMA promotion ONE Championship to stream on the platform (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/13 issue).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? A WarnerMedia spokesperson said that finalizing the AT&T-Time Warner merger means that the Turner brand "will likely soon be retired." WarnerMedia said that there is "no word as to when the Turner name will officially go away," but added that the brand’s retirement would "likely affect ... properties bearing the Turner name throughout Atlanta, and that staffers who previously identified themselves as Turner employees will soon identify themselves as WarnerMedia employees" (NBCNEWS.com, 3/13).