Apple and Time Warner Executives Reportedly Discussed Acquisition Back in 2015

Back in 2015, Apple reportedly considered purchasing Time Warner, which eventually sold itself to AT&T for $100 billion USD.

AT&T and Discovery, when talking about putting together their content, almost considered an acquisition by other streaming companies like Apple, reads a new report from CNBC.

WarnerMedia-Discovery will apparently have a market capitalization of more than $100 billion USD when it begins trading next year. While Apple could more than afford the acquisition as it currently has a market valuation of $2.1 trillion USD, its biggest acquisition to date was back in 2014 when it purchased Beats Electronics for $3 billion.

Although it’s unclear whether Apple is still interested in buying a media giant, CNBC has highlighted some of the historical ties between WarnerMedia and the Cupertino company. During talks back in 2015, the idea of the Time Warner acquisition by Apple was discussed but never made it far:

During the talks, Bewkes and Cook broached the subject of Apple acquiring Time Warner to deal with one of the biggest hurdles of the $19-per-month concept: What if Apple or Time Warner eventually wanted to back out? Once the companies went live with the offer, they’d need to stay aligned. Walking away from the deal could be disastrous to both companies’ external relationships.

Cue expressed interest in a full acquisition, but Cook ultimately wasn’t ready to pull the trigger on what likely would have been a nearly $100 billion deal, two of the people said. Neither Bewkes nor Cook had initially expected the talks to lead to thoughts of an acquisition, said the people. Time Warner had successfully fought off a hostile takeover offer from Fox a year earlier.

A year later, in late 2016, Bewkes agreed to sell Time Warner to AT&T for more than $105 billion including debt.

Apple also has a deal with the former chief of HBO, another potential in on acquisition deals, explains the report:

Plepler left HBO after disagreeing with current AT&T CEO John Stankey about the direction of the premium network, as detailed by CNBC last year.

Months later, he signed a five-year deal with Apple TV+ to produce TV series, documentaries and feature films exclusively for the streaming service.

While Apple is currently under antitrust scrutiny and a deal as large as a Time Warner acquisition could raise alarms, the takeover could boost the profile of Apple TV+. Apple’s premium streaming service has largely failed to see the same success as rivals like Netflix, Amazon, or Disney+.