Comcast blinks in fight with Disney for Twenty-First Century Fox

Carla Harmon
July 20, 2018

The cable and media company said Thursday that it is dropping its bid, instead focusing on its pursuit of the European pay-TV operator Sky. The two had competing visions of what they'd do with the company. Time had run out for Comcast to come back with a new offer, with Fox shareholders scheduled to vote on the Disney deal on July 27.

The Walt Disney Company had upped its offer to 21st Century Fox from its originally agreed upon figure of $52 billion to $71.3 billion after Comcast tried its cash bid of $65 billion.

Disney's offer had several advantages over Comcast's bid, one of which was that the Justice Department had already approved it. 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.

"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". 21st Century Fox will now become "New Fox" and consist of Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and local TV stations.

It looks like Disney will get the X-Men, while Comcast shifts its focus to the UK. As Disney is scheduled to launch its own streaming service to compete with Netflix and Hulu next year-even though this deal would potentially give Disney almost a one-third stake in Hulu-the value of that content can not be overstated, even from the Mouse House's coffers.

"This was the final chapter in this soap opera", said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives.

Ives said Comcast's focus now is on getting Sky "to build a strong beachhead content strategy in Europe".

Sky operates in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the U.K. It has 22.5 million customers, attracted by offerings such as English Premier League soccer and "Game of Thrones".

It is not yet clear what will happen to Mr Murdoch's 39% stake in Sky, but it is thought that could also be sold to Comcast. Comcast last week raised its bid for Sky, topping a previous offer made by 21st Century Fox. After Comcast tapped out of the fight, the Disney head honcho released a statement expressing his excitement to move forward with the acquisition of Fox. That includes other worldwide properties, including the Star India satellite service. Fox will maintain control of the main Fox broadcasting network, along with Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 and the Fox News cable network.

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