In news that has the potential to totally reshape the worlds of film and television, AT&T will spin off WarnerMedia — the home of Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max streaming and many more — and merge it with Discovery — the home of cable channels like HGTV, Food Network, Animal Planet, OWN, and their own streaming service, Discovery+. The decision, which reportedly could be official as early as today, comes just three years after AT&T purchased Time Warner in a bid to control the content that people would enjoy on their smartphones or broadband. AT&T spent more than $85 billion acquiring Time Warner, but they are already ready to get out of the complex and costly world of content creation.

If the deal with Discovery goes through, it would create one of the biggest media companies in the world. According to The New York Times, “the transaction would create a new company bigger than Netflix or NBCUniversal. WarnerMedia and Discovery together generated more than $41 billion in sales last year, with an operating profit of over $10 billion. That would have vaulted the combined company ahead of Netflix and NBCUniversal and behind the Walt Disney Company.”

We’re a long way from knowing what this means for the future of both companies, but the ramifications could be enormous. It could affect what kinds of films and shows they make. It could impact the way those films and shows are distributed. (Warner Bros. is currently in the midst of a year where they experiment with theatrical distribution, premiering all their big films in theaters and on HBO Max the same day. What happens to that moving forward?) If all this sounds like arcane business news that won’t affect you, guess again. If you care at all about DC Comics, Harry Potter and the Wizarding World, or Game of Thrones, those will all be affected by this deal. The new company would control each of those properties.

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