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Comcast Lets Disney Win Bidding War for Fox

Comcast Lets Disney Win Bidding War for Fox

The media giant said in a statement it would instead focus on acquiring the European pay TV operator Sky, shifting its stand on how it approaches the latest round of consolidation in the media-entertainment sector.

Comcast had been fiercely duelling with Disney for Twenty-First Century Fox assets, but on Thursday said that it would not raise its $66 billion U.S. offer for the company. Those assets include Fox's Hollywood studios, content library, cable channels, global networks, and 39 percent stake in Sky. The DOJ's approval of the Fox/Disney deal requires Disney to divest Fox-owned regional sports networks. Though Rupert Murdoch and his sons were allied with Disney Chairman Robert Iger in pursuing a deal, they stand to make far more money this way.

This doesn't mean that Comcast isn't looking to expand their own media empire.

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Buying Sky would make Comcast the world's biggest pay TV network and would reduce its dependence on the USA market. Home to popular franchises like X-Men, Deadpool, The Simpsons and more, Fox's entertainment assets could benefit Disney significantly. The Justice Department is appealing a judge's ruling that swept aside all objections to the AT&T/Time Warner merger. Sky the UK's biggest pay TV service provides instant access to the European market that both Comcast and Disney are desperate for and it can not be completely included in the deal for Fox. But now the boardroom battle is over, and as the metaphorical smoke clears, Comcast is walking away and paving the way for a Disney acquisition. Last week, Comcast made a bid that values Sky at $34 billion, compared with $32.5 billion in Fox's offer. 21st Century Fox and the Murdochs own a controlling 39 percent of Sky.

"We're extremely pleased with today's news, and our focus now is on completing the regulatory process and ultimately moving toward integrating our businesses".

The next major date in Disney and Comcast's media standoff is July 27th, when Sky shareholders vote on whether to sell to either Fox or Comcast. Moffett notes that the satellite TV provider is vulnerable to the same disruptions by Netflix and other streaming services as Comcast itself. That also holds the prospect of boosting the cost of the overall Fox deal to Disney, as it intends to buy up all of Sky if the Murdochs prevail.

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