Apple approached Time Warner about possible merger before AT&T talks

“Apple Inc. a few months ago approached Time Warner about pursuing a combination, and though the discussions didn’t progress beyond a preliminary stage, Apple is now monitoring the situation, people familiar with the matter said Friday,” Shalini Ramachandran, Dana Mattioli and Keach Hagey report for The Wall Street Journal. “AT&T is now in advanced talks to purchase Time Warner, The Wall Street Journal has reported, and a deal could come together within days.”

“The talks for Time Warner suggest there is a greater merger dance occurring in the media industry as conglomerates, telecom companies and tech giants try to stake their claim on the future,” Ramachandran, Mattioli and Hagey report. “A host of other contenders could jump into the fray for Time Warner and scuttle the planned deal, media executives and analysts say.”

“Time Warner is viewed as perhaps the most attractive stand-alone media asset, given its premium content brands—which include HBO, CNN and Warner Bros.–and the fact it doesn’t have a controlling shareholder,” Ramachandran, Mattioli and Hagey report. “From Apple’s end, executives under Chief Executive Tim Cook were involved in the earlier talks. Apple has pursued plans to build an online TV service and has begun creating original programming of its own. Before its most recent approach, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, brought up a potential combination in a meeting with Time Warner’s head of corporate strategy Olaf Olafsson last year, the people said, though the talks never went further than that.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in January, “Apple should use their cash pile to create some much needed leverage to finally get their Apple TV subscription bundle(s) up and running even if all they do is flash their cash around.”

Apple’s “skinny bundle” will have to have ESPN. It will also likely require the “Big Four” networks.

What others networks should be considered to be must-haves? Beyond the Big Four, if you go by primetime ratings (total viewers), the top 20 U.S. cable networks are:

2. Fox News Channel
2. USA
3. TBS
4. Disney
5. Discovery Channel
6. History Channel
7. TNT
9. Nickelodeon
10. AMC
11. Adult Swim
12. FX
13. Cartoon Network
14. Food Channel
15. Lifetime
16. ABC Family
17. Syfy
18. TLC
19. Hallmark
20. Investigation Discovery

Source: Nielsen estimates, Live plus-3 for Dec. 29, 2014 – Dec. 16, 2015 (M-Su 8-11 p.m.)

Apple’s suggestion of Time Warner bid hints at Hollywood ambitions – May 26, 2016
Apple contemplates dramatic push into media industry – May 26, 2016
Apple’s Eddy Cue proposed bid for Time Warner – May 26, 2016
Obviously, Apple could buy Time Warner, but they shouldn’t – January 14, 2016
Apple eyeing Time Warner assets to ease launch of a stand-alone streaming TV service – January 13, 2016


  1. Time Warner as well as few other giant behemoths have this corrupt, toxic culture of crony capitalism and bureaucracy that could poison Apple, if it will bought and merged normally. Such purchases should be either never done, or done, so to speak, in such a revolutionary way that would allow Apple to survive it.

    1. Time Warner may mean something in the US, but not as much in other countries.

      This is far too US centric for Apple to waste its time with.

      Good old Tim Cook: no vision.

      Apple is a tech company, and until it can get its crap together with not having confused product lines, lagging lines like the Mac, half baked products like the Apple TV, THICKER iPhones with no real battery life improvements, etc., they need to shut up and focus on the fundamentals.

      How about screens that don’t wash out in sunlight; quick charge which several products already have; innovative new products…

  2. Disney seems like a a good parter with a lot of historic connections. Although HBO would be a winner all by itself. AT&T and Apple although rocky relationship, is also long and prosperous.

    I suspect Apple backed down, when AT&T showed up to the table. Seeing a lesser involved position, Apple has something worth working with, without exposing themselves, excessively.

    I think they have a good working relationship with Fox properties as well.

    Given that, they need to address Discovery, CBS and the rest of Viacom / National Entertainment.

    Apple seems to have cards people aren’t counting.

    1. Apple is always a day late and dollar short. To stingy with that cash pile. The way it’s going Apple conference get ever getting there skinny bundle. They needed to have been working this deal several years ago. Comcast and AT&T are controlling their future while Apple sits on its ass.

  3. Some of us are tired of paying the ESPN tax. ESPN needs to be optional, I am tired of subsidizing the NBA, MLB, NFL and the Southeatern Conference (SEC Network).
    I watch a little college football and even less college basketball. The rest I have no use for. Most of ESPN are gossip shows full of people bullshitting about sports.

  4. Apple is always a day late and dollar short. To stingy with that cash pile. The way it’s going Apple conference get ever getting there skinny bundle. They needed to have been working this deal several years ago. Comcast and AT&T are controlling their future while Apple sits on its ass.

  5. Remember the last time, a tech titan bought Time Warner?

    That went real well for AOL. Synergy!

    Why would Apple want to buy the cow when when they the content on their junky Apple TV already? Hulu is there, Netflix, HBO, its all there. Why spend money to buy an albatross and wrap it around your neck?

    Apple has far better things to do than schedule when the next episode of the Kardashians is going to air.

  6. 85 billion is too much. This will be a major failure.

    Apple should continue with the idea to build from scratch. (stop buying stuff) Nothing like learning from the ground up. Risky, yes, but there is no real competition amongst supplies of these types of services.

    Google seems to have puttied out on building a high speed network, cutting back on it’s build out. So, that division will be up for sale soon. Microsoft is probably too gun shy to build out a network, but they seem to be coming back.

    Apple Entertainment: yeah it’s probably a money loser, but it will provide some jobs for a while. You never know there maybe a hit or two. I like the idea of educational channels, history, art, music, science, engineering, etc… nothing like learning more. 🙂

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