If you were hoping to see all of your favourite Marvel characters under one roof, we have some bad news. If you didn’t like the idea of Disney owning the whole Marvel universe, well, it can always get worse. Comcast is backing a dump truck of cash up to 21st Century Fox’s doorstep, besting Disney’s previous offer to buy the company. And the merger floodgates are officially open.
Following a US District Court’s decision this week to allow a merger between AT&T and Time-Warner to go forward, it was widely expected that Comcast would push forward with its own grand plans to buy up the media landscape. Today, Comcast offered $US65 billion ($86 billion) in cold hard cash to take over 21st Century Fox. Disney previously agreed to pay $US52.4 billion ($69 billion) for the media company, and that offer was entirely in stock.
We only need, like, six more cycles of this stuff before there’s only one company left. And there’s already speculation that Disney will raise its bid and set off a bidding war.
Along with 21st Century Fox’s movie and television properties, the winning bidder will also become the majority owner of Hulu. Both Disney and Comcast (through its ownership of NBCUniversal) hold 30 per cent of the streaming service – 21st Century Fox owns another 30 per cent and Time-Warner owns the last 10 per cent. Yes, Hulu is a big mess of conglomerates.
Since AT&T’s vertical merger got the all-clear from the courts, it seems unlikely that Comcast’s bid will be challenged by a newly chastened US Justice Department. In 2011, when Comcast decided to merge with NBCUniversal, the FTC and DOJ imposed conditions to mitigate the deal’s harm on competition within the media industry. But it will be more difficult to insist on that sort of thing considering AT&T’s very similar deal came with no strings attached.
When the FCC repealed net neutrality last year, its chairman, Ajit Pai, argued that companies such as Comcast weren’t investing in broadband deployment because of uncertainty caused by regulations. That’s been proven to be utterly false.
But it certainly does seem that Comcast has been socking away a lot of cash, and now that net neutrality is officially off the books, it’s using that cash to improve its networks and serve the peop – or, um, rather, gobble up Fox to become an even bigger media megacorp.