Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal Merger Could Happen in 2024, According to Analysts

Warner Bros. Discovery may appear to be in disarray from the outside looking in, but a new report claims more upheaval may be on the way for the newly merged company. CEO David Zaslav is still searching for someone to lead DC Films and TV after Dan Lin reportedly turned down the position. Whoever lands the position would be considered the studio's Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios. While Warner Bros. Discovery continues to slash $50 billion in debt, analysts around Hollywood are speculating the company could be setting itself up to be sold to NBCUniversal.

An article in The Hollywood Reporter by Kim Masters points to industry observers who think Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has his eye on merging NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery. "Obviously Peacock sucks," an exec with knowledge of both companies said. "There are some good synergies. I'm sure [Roberts] is licking his chops because the [WBD] stock is so low. And I think that's Zaslav's endgame. Get the place sold." A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery responded, "We are building Warner Bros. Discovery for the long term." 

It's important to note that negotiations between NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery can't take place until April 2024. This is when Comcast has the right (but not the obligation) to sell its remaining 33% of Hulu to Disney for at least $27.5 billion. Speaking September 14th at the Goldman Sachs + Technology Conference, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts suggested that, rather than selling their minority stake to Disney in 2024, he would be open to flipping the script and buying the streaming platform outright.

"I believe if Hulu was put up for sale, Comcast would be interested [in buying it]," Roberts said. "So would a lot of other tech and media companies. You would have a robust auction."

He added, "Regardless, 100% value of Hulu is what we are entitled to, but if it were up for sale, we certainly, and I think others would want to get into that opportunity. I think our position [in Hulu] is very enviable for us and our shareholders. As a company, Hulu has done a spectacular job."

Of course, NBCUniversal is also the owner of the Peacock streaming service. Just think if Comcast were able to gain full control of Hulu and bring it together with Peacock. If an acquisition of Warner Bros. Discovery were also to happen, NBCUniversal would have a catalog of content to rival Disney. Roberts' comments also appear to indicate that if he were to sell Hulu, that money could then be spun to help acquire Warner Bros. Discovery.