Harry Potter spinoff helps Time Warner top estimates

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 Time Warner Inc reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter results, largely due to box office hits such as the “Harry Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.”

The New York-based media company, which is set to become part of AT&T Inc in an $85.4 billion deal, reported an 11.5-percent rise in quarterly revenue and said the merger remained on track to close later this year.

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U.S. President Donald Trump opposed AT&T’s bid for Time Warner during his election campaign. AT&T, which has also said it expects the deal to be approved, is looking to boost its media offerings such as ‘over-the-top services’ that are independent of any cable TV subscription, such as DirecTV Now.

Time Warner topped Wall Street’s estimates as the company, which owns film studio Warner Bros as well as the CNN and HBO television channels, confronts the challenges of more viewers going online to watch their favorite shows and movies.

On its earnings call with analysts, Time Warner announced that its streaming service, HBO Now, which launched in 2015, has 2 million U.S. subscribers.

The company noted it does not expect pay TV subscription revenue growth until the second half of the year because it is taking longer for affiliate renewals to get completed. It did forecast high single-digit growth in revenue for 2017.

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