Your move, Comcast.
On the heels of a federal judge’s decision that AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner should not be stopped for competitive reasons, Comcast is expected to make its bid for the 21st Century Fox film and TV studio assets Walt Disney Co. has already agreed to buy.
The cable and Internet provider, which owns NBC Universal, said last month it planned an all-cash offer for the Fox studios and networks, but hadn’t named the price. Comcast could start at $60 billion, topping Disney’s $52 billion offer, said CNBC. The Philadelphia-based Comcast was expected to wait for the judge’s ruling in the Justice Department’s suit against AT&T-Time Warner before making a formal bid.
Despite their grip on the nation’s Internet, phone and pay-TV needs, companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are aggressively seeking to add new businesses. An entertainment library, such as shows produced by Fox’s studios and its regional sports networks, has emerged as a coveted alternative to the core subscription business now characterized by tepid wireless revenue growth and a shift by households to cut the cable cord.
The 21st Century Fox assets up for grabs include the historic 20th Century Fox movie studio, which has produced such classics as Miracle on 34th Street, Alien, Titanic, and the original Star Wars film, plus Fox’s television studio (The Simpsons, Empire) and FX and National Geographic channels. They also include a one-third stake in Hulu, Fox’s 22 regional sports networks and its stake in U.K.-based satellite TV and Internet provider Sky.
Disney, Comcast and Fox each currently hold 30% stakes in Hulu.
A successful Comcast deal would be a blow to Disney and CEO Bob Iger, who has pinned Disney’s future to hit movies and TV shows it could gain with Fox that could bolster Disney’s own streaming services.
A Comcast win would spell disappointment for Marvel fans who may have looked forward to an X-Men mash-up film with Marvel’s The Avengers and Fox’s X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four.
And Disney’s hopes to secure the complete rights to Star Wars would also be thwarted by a Comcast deal.