Can Adam Conover Ruin Mega Mergers? Let's Find Out!

"Adam Ruins Everything" was one of my favorite shows. Yes, I’m a nerd, but host Adam Conover seamlessly combined entertainment with well-researched debunkings of popular misconceptions (I won’t call the show “edutainment,” even if it qualified).


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The show aired for almost five years on the basic cable channel truTV but was abruptly cancelled in 2019 after AT&T acquired truTV as part of a merger with Time Warner. “Adam Ruins Everything,” while still popular, was a casualty of the merger, as Conover explained in a social media post:

They did what they always do every time there's a big mega-merger: they laid a ton of people off. One hundred people were fired from truTV, including the head of the network, the vice head of the network, the entire programming department, the entire marketing department. Basically, everyone in the entire building was let go. And then they started canceling shows to cut costs.

Donald Trump had tried to block the merger for his own reasons but failed because he was dealing with actual business people. The deal went through in 2018 and, according to Conover, it wasn’t long before it “turned what used to be an awesome, thriving TV network into a graveyard that just airs old ‘Impractical Jokers’ reruns.”

Adam ruins corporate mergers in this tweet from January:



Just three years after the merger, in May 2021, AT&T announced that it would combine its content unit WarnerMedia with Discovery. CNBC reported:

Under the agreement, AT&T will unwind its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which closed just under three years ago, and form a new media company with Discovery. The deal would create a new business, separate from AT&T, that could be valued at as much as $150 billion, including debt, according to The Financial Times.

The suits at AT&T are making a fortune, but the collateral damage continues. Variety revealed Tuesday that Warner Bros. Discovery plans to end scripted programming on TNT and TBS. CEO David Zaslav claims this will result in $3 billion worth of cost savings for the company post-merger. However, humans who actually create something for a living will lose their jobs.

Conover tweeted Tuesday:



Barely 2 weeks after the Warner/Discovery merger closed, TBS & TNT are shuttering their entire scripted TV depts. Multiple friends tell me they were working on shows that were suddenly cancelled today. Once again, a mega-merger is killing jobs and media options. When will it end?

TNT and TBS have scaled back their scripted programming over the past few years. The remaining scripted shows on TBS include “The Last OG,” “Miracle Workers,” “Chad,” and my beloved “American Dad.” TNT just has two — “Animal Kingdom,” which ends in June, and “Snowpiercer” starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs. Maybe this is just natural selection in the streaming age, but Conover questions the MONEY NOW! motivation behind most "mega-mergers."

Let's be clear: TNT and TBS made scripted television with great success since 1989 — over 30 years. They're still on in tens of millions of homes. The ONLY reason these healthy broadcasters are committing suicide is because of a needless merger that only benefitted the wealthy.

The last merger, with AT&T three years ago, killed my network truTV and folded it under TNT and TBS. Now this merger has killed those networks too. Whose jobs will the next merger eliminate? What voices will never reach your screen? Whose stories will never be told?

Tune in next week! Or actually, just a little later today. It turns out that Conover will speak before the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice today about the impact of mergers on TV and media industry. He’s scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. PST/1:30 p.m. EST. If you’d like to watch, which I recommend, you can do so here.

[Variety]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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