Comcast gives up on buying 21st Century Fox assets and leaves Disney as the winner

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Comcast has formally withdrawn its competing $65 billion bid to acquire 21st Century Fox, ceding the rights to the entertainment company to Disney’s upped $71.3 billion offer. Comcast says it will instead shift all focus to its ongoing efforts to acquire Europe’s Sky instead.

Per an official statement from the company, “Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky.”

Disney first announced its bid for Fox’s assets — which include the movie studio 20th Century Fox, the company’s TV production arm 20th Century Fox Television, Fox-owned cable networks (including FX and National Geographic), and a controlling stake in Hulu — in a $52.4 billion bid last December. But following AT&T’s successful acquisition of Time Warner, Comcast was emboldened to make a $65 billion all-cash bid of its own, confident that regulatory approval for a Comcast-Fox deal wouldn’t be an issue. Disney countered that offer with a $71.3 billion bid last month, and it seems that Comcast isn’t interested in going any higher.

Now that Comcast is no longer trying to steal Fox out from under it and antitrust approval from the Justice Department is already secured, it would seem that there aren’t any obstacles left for Disney’s landmark acquisition.

A merged Disney Fox conglomerate would look something like this:

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predictable, inevitable. and again Brian Roberts gets embarrassed by the Walt Disney Company. it would really suck for Comcast if somehow Fox secures the rest of Sky somehow.

Comcast should’ve learned by now that you don’t mess with the mouse.

Anything that causes Comcast to not grow as fast is good in my book.

This is truly just a major win for the MCU.

Indeed, that’s the ONLY thing it’s a win for…it’s a LOSS in pretty much every other aspect.

I don’t know, I’m looking forward to seeing what streaming service Disney cooks up now that they have all of their content plus Fox’s content to add into it.

Seriously. This is a huge aspect of the deal that few people are acknowledging. Netflix should be very very concerned. I never intended to buy a separate dedicated Disney streaming service, but if it ends up an exclusive home to Marvel, Star Wars, Disney, and Fox content? Holy hell. That could make it a must have subscription.

In a perfect world, Disney would simply utilize it’s larger stake in Hulu and put it’s content there to compete with Netflix, but I doubt they will do that. (I say that’s perfect ’cause I already have Hulu, lol.)

Disney has said that Hulu will be part of their strategy post fox acquisition. I think what’ll happen is that Disney’s streaming services will have all of the Disney branded content, Marvel, Star Wars, the Muppets, and probably Avatar, and Hulu will get anything too adult, like content from FX, any R rated titles in Fox’s back catalog, etc.

It’s also very important to note that Hulu only operates in the US and Japan.

If Disney throws enough money at the problem, they should be able to expand rapidly. That’s if they want Hulu to become a true Netflix competitor.

I still think Netflix has no reason to be too concerned, they just need more high quality originals, as always.

Oh Disney’s gonna change that fast when they take over Hulu. You can’t make the math add up in streaming ($8 billion in content for $8/month?!?) without efficiencies of scale.

PS the Japan Hulu isn’t even really Hulu.

I’m not so sure about that. I’m pretty sure Disney’s standalone service will go international before Hulu, if not launch as such.

At least in Canada, because Hulu has content from a variety of studios/networks tied up in various states of distribution deals with the networks here (mostly owned by various telecom companies in the catastrophic oligopoly we have up here), I imagine Disney would rather gradually negotiate itself into control of their own properties before putting in that effort so Comcast and AT&T can get paid.

Comcast and AT&T are both insanely overpowered telecom companies who would rather the traditional models that serve them remain intact if they can’t control the new ones. There’s no way they’re going to mess up their bags with Rogers and Bell over here. I’d love to have Hulu up here, but it’s very clear how conservative media is up here, and how that’s the LEAST likely option.

Honestly, this would be an awesome scenario.

Netflix needed to get their shit together fast just because of Disney, but with Fox, they better drink rocket fuel now. Their main problem is, they have no famous brands and have to build all their hits from scratch. They’ve got some good stuff in the hopper but better start producing it before the end of the year. 2019 is gonna get stickier.

Disney will probably buy out Comcast and AT&T to take over Hulu entirely and use it as their "grownup content" platform. They might keep the brand though, and use Disney just for the kids service.

In the most shallow of ways, yes, they’ll have an incredible library for their streaming service.

Disney has the content. They’ll just have to get their tech up to par with netflix to compete from there.

I don’t know why Comcast getting Fox would be any less of a loss. Everything is consolidating and content is all going to one exclusive streaming service or another. Disney is obviously going to be one of the winners, but Comcast is an open question. Can they be one of the losers to eliminate the number of services we need to rotate between? Just for sanity’s sake. Also, they suck as a company and it would be hilarious to see them go down in flames.

I don’t know man… Disney has a history of letting studios it owns do their thing so as long as they leave FOX Searchlight and the like their editorial independence I am not sure what the true negatives are.

Let me put it this way, I trust Disney a heck of a lot more than I trust Fox’s parent co.

While I agree with you, I am very concerned about what it means for the entertainment industry as a whole. Disney has even more ridiculous power now.

That’s the point of me saying "just".

Then maybe you should have composed your sentence better because the way it’s written "just" appears to be adding emphasis to "major."

For example: "The above comment makes you sound like just a wonderful person to converse with."

vs

"You seem like the type of person who thinks they know everything with just that one comment."

Disney dominates in movie theaters, but streaming is a huge and growing business, and they are just one of many contenders there.

Sure. But they’ve already said that they will be moving all their IP to their own streaming service once their various contracts expire with the existing services. Plus, with their acquisition of Fox, they will have a majority (and controlling) ownership or Hulu, so it might be just Hulu.

I can’t believe I live in a world where Disney now owns The Simpsons. Feels like the Smash Brothers of acquisitions. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this. As for the Comcast embarrassment, there is no way they should have gave up. The properties is that Fox own would’ve brought the money back over time in the entertainment world from ads to consumer items worldwide where SKY can’t reach. Disney is going to own the content everywhere.

Comcast probably didn’t want to up the bid. Disney was probably more than willing to up the bid again if necessary.

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