For better or for worse, the Internet has revolutionized American culture.

In the process, this has made countless fortunes for investors savvy enough to get in on the right up-and-coming technology. But it hasn't been without a cost.

Email services and social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the way we communicate, causing irrevocable damage to traditional mail. And the rise of ecommerce, led by Amazon, has led to the near-destruction of hallowed brick-and-mortar department stores such as Macy's and Sears Holdings.

The change has also been felt in the way that media are consumed.

Online-video-streaming services such as Netflix, and, to a lesser extent, those operated by Alphabet's Google, Amazon, Apple and a number of other Internet giants, have led many American viewers to "cut the cord" on traditional network and cable television. And they are no longer using television sets but viewing programs on mobile phones instead.

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That is the primary motivation behind telecom AT&T's (T) - Get Report  bid to purchase entertainment giant Time Warner (TWX) .

Both companies have been in existence for, give or take, 100 years, and they have healthy stocks that have pleased investors for decades. But both are in industries challenged by our Internet-centric society.

AT&T, which owns cable satellite company DirecTV, needs to stem the loss of customers dropping its services to watch videos that are cheaper online.

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And Time Warner needs new platforms for the popular programs and films that it produces. As the parent of HBO, it is a particularly juicy plum.

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In June, AT&T attempted to purchase cable network Starz but was beaten out by Lions Gate Entertainment and a bid of $4.4 billion.

The Time Warner deal values the entertainment company at about $110 a share or $86 billion. The merger could still fall through, however, and Time Warner already rejected advances from 21st Century Fox just two years ago.

However, this year, mounting pressures due to changing viewing habits are more likely to spur acceptance of the deal.

The deal is also likely to come under fire from intense regulatory scrutiny.

AT&T controls the country's second-largest wireless network after Verizon Communications and, with DirecTV, the country's largest pay-TV company. By owning Time Warner, it would also become one of the world's largest entertainment companies.

Investors should keep a close eye on AT&T as it makes bold moves to protect and build its business in light of Americans' changing preferences when it comes to entertainment.


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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.