After a summer of back-and-forth bids between Comcast and Disney for select entertainment assets owned by 21st Century Fox, Comcast today confirmed that it is bowing out of the bidding war for Fox. The company says the move is to instead focus on acquiring European satellite TV provider Sky, another much-sought-after entertainment company that is seeing interest from the likes of Comcast, Fox, and Disney (via Variety).
For the purchase of 21st Century Fox, this means that Disney is now expected to finally win the bid and close out the acquisition deal in the near future. The most recent steps in that process saw Disney and Fox agree to a $71.3 billion cash and stock deal, which has now also been approved by the Department of Justice on the condition that Disney sells off 22 regional Fox sports networks.
In the announcement confirming that it will not place another bid on Fox, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts congratulated Disney and its CEO Bob Iger:
“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,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman-CEO, added: “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”
Disney originally announced interest in acquiring 21st Century Fox last December, starting its bidding at $52.4 billion in stock before Comcast forced it to increase the amount and introduce a cash component. Once the acquisition is final, Disney will own Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television Studios and Fox-related cable and international TV businesses.
At the time, Disney leadership said that the new Fox assets will build on the company's "commitment to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment," as well as fuel its ability to "create more appealing content." The company also referenced its intent to deliver a "more compelling" entertainment experience to Disney consumers "whenever and however" they choose.
Disney said that the Fox assets would accelerate its use of certain technologies, including the recently acquired BAMTech platform, which it aims to use for its solo-streaming service. With the acquisition, Disney will immediately gain a large stable of old and new television shows and movies to populate its upcoming streaming service, expected to launch in 2019 and compete with Apple's own streaming TV service.