Comcast really wants to own 21st Century Fox. The company announced today that it’s planning and is in the “advanced stages of preparing” an offer for Fox in the hopes that it’ll reject Disney’s existing bid to acquire the company’s entertainment arm. Comcast says: “Any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney.” This move has been expected and rumored. It doesn’t affect Fox’s news and sports assets, including Fox News and Fox Sports.
Disney offered Fox a $52.4 billion all-stock deal late last year, and shareholders are expected to vote on the offer this summer. Comcast is hoping to sneak in with this all-cash offer ahead of that vote. Fox cut off earlier talks with Comcast over antitrust concerns, suspecting that the deal would never be approved. But now it seems that another major deal — Time Warner and AT&T — might pass through. If that happens, Comcast could potentially acquire parts of Fox without alarming regulators.
This deal is important to Comcast because having 21st Century Fox’s massive and popular content library would give the company a leg up in a battle against streaming services. As part of this deal, Comcast would even acquire part of Hulu. Basically, every company is fighting to own content. We can see this fight playing out with Disney’s plans to launch its own streaming service (where Fox content would be nice to include). Netflix currently streams some Disney productions and will start losing access in 2019 when Disney’s new service launches. Because Disney is doing its own thing, Netflix is now heavily investing in its own series.
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.