Huge implications on future rights fees.
1. Turner Sports (and HBO) are now part of something even bigger: Time Warner had plenty of resources in its own right, but the acquisition by AT&T makes it even larger. And that could possibly lead to Turner (and maybe even HBO) being even more aggressive when it comes to sports rights and sports programming. Turner’s made plenty of big moves there over the years already, from March Madness to the NBA to MLB to now the Champions League, but they could possibly become even a bigger player with AT&T’s backing. Also, it was reported during the last round of UFC contract talks that Turner was being cautious with rights bids, waiting to see what would happen with this merger. They don’t need to worry about that now.
Oh, and new Turner streaming service B/R Live now has even more backing to pick up rights, and Bleacher Report as a whole has extra backing too. And while HBO already had plenty of resources and was investing some of them in sports (especially documentaries, Real Sports and boxing), they now have even more. It will be interesting to see what happens to AT&T/DirecTV’s own content channel Audience and to their regional sports networks now; will there be some integration with Turner’s properties? Will Audience in particularly be less necessary now they have these other content areas? And we’ll see if AT&T finds ways to favor Time Warner content, maybe on TV but perhaps especially on the web, where the end of net neutrality opens up whole ranges of possibilities for boosting your own content. AT&T and other distributors say they’re not planning on that right now, but that may change.