Last year saw a record number of mergers and acquisitions (M&As), altogether valued at a monumental $4.78 trillion worldwide.

Since then, M&A activity has sharply declined overall, with deals limited mostly to larger, multinational corporations. According to M&A database group PitchBook—itself to be acquired by Morningstar—there were 31 deals with estimated values of at least $10 billion in the third quarter alone, more than the entirety of 2015.

Volume Completed Deals in Third Quarter Saw a Steep Plunge
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Despite tightening regulatory and antitrust hurdles, more of these monster-size deals are on their way, including stalwart American brands.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

No doubt you’ve heard by now that AT&T is about to get into the movie and television business. The Dallas-based telecommunications giant announced last week that it would be purchasing Time Warner, the world’s largest media empire, whose vast portfolio includes CNN, TNT and HBO, as well as reliable cash cows Harry Potter and DC Comics, home to Superman and Batman.

Barring any antitrust obstacles—which AT&T is no stranger to—the $85.4 billion deal is expected to close by the end of 2017.

What AT&T Gets for $85 Billion
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The deal makes a lot of sense. People’s viewing preferences are changing such that they’re just as likely now to get their programming on WiFi-enabled devices as they are via cable and satellite. Traditional TV still plays an overwhelmingly huge role in most of our lives, but with online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime adding subscribers every day, more and more of the content we consume is migrating to laptops, smartphones and other non-TV screens.

Device preferences for watching TV in the U.S.
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According to Pew Research, as many as one in four American adults now report being either a cord-cutter or so-called “cord-never”—someone who’s never subscribed to cable or satellite.