Comcast challenges Disney with bid for Fox
Comcast made a $65 billion bid Wednesday for Fox’s entertainment businesses, setting up a battle with Disney to become the next mega-media company.
The bid comes just a day after a federal judge cleared AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner and rejected the government’s argument that it would hurt competition in cable and satellite TV and jack up costs to consumers for streaming TV and movies. The ruling signaled that Comcast could win regulatory approval, too; its bid for Fox shares similarities with the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
Comcast says its cash bid is 19 percent higher than the value of Disney’s offer as of Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal and others reported earlier that Comcast had lined up $60 billion in cash to challenge Disney for media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s company.
Disney’s offer was for $52.5 billion when it was made in December, though the final value will depend on the stock price at the closing.
The battle for Twenty-First Century Fox comes as traditional entertainment companies try to amass more content to compete better with tech companies such as Amazon and Netflix for viewers’ attention and dollars.
If the Comcast bid succeeds, a major cable distributor would control even more channels on its lineup and those of its rivals. That could lead to higher cable bills or make it more difficult for online alternatives to emerge, though there is not yet evidence of either happening following other mergers.
Content is becoming more important as ways to deliver content proliferate. Cable companies like Comcast are no longer competing only with satellite alternatives such as DirecTV, but also stand-alone services such as Netflix and cable-like online bundles through Sony, AT&T and others.
Disney already started its own sports streaming service and plans an entertainment-focused one late next year featuring movies and shows from its own studios, which include Marvel, Pixar and “Star Wars” creator Lucasfilm. Comcast, meanwhile, has been leading the way in marrying pipes with the entertainment that flows through them. It bought NBCUniversal’s cable channels and movie studio in 2013 and added Dreamworks Animation in 2016.
Whichever company prevails would also control Fox’s cable and international TV businesses.
The Fox television network and some cable channels, including Fox News and Fox Business Network, would stay with Murdoch’s family under either deal, as would the newspaper and book businesses under a separate company, News Corp.