Comcast Bids $31B to Steal Sky From Fox, Disney

Mari Silbey
News Analysis
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video

BARCELONA -- MWC 2018 -- Not content to get outbid by Disney for parts of 21st Century Fox, Comcast is now looking to swoop in and take over Sky, the UK service provider that Fox is supposed to claim full ownership of before Disney's acquisition of Fox goes through.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) had been competing for a larger slice of the Fox assets, but when it lost out to Disney, it apparently didn't give up on its ambition to take over Sky . (See What If Disney & Comcast Split for Fox?)

The US cable giant has announced a formal cash proposal to acquire Sky in a deal that values the company at $31 billion. That bid offers a 16% premium over the amount 21st Century Fox has already agreed to spend in its proposal to take over Sky.

So why is Comcast so interested in a service provider all the way across the proverbial pond? In a word: scale. The addition of Sky would give Comcast 50 million customers globally and a chance to extend both its consumer and technology presence far beyond its US home, where regulators are unlikely to let the cable market consolidate much further. Comcast has been clear for years that it wants to expand internationally, and Sky has a presence in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy. (See Comcast Eyes Global Moves, BYOD & More.)

On the video front, Comcast would also gain Sky's Now TV OTT service. That has interesting implications for how Comcast might pursue video distribution in the future. At the moment, Comcast does not deliver video to customers outside its footprint over the Internet in the US.

This story is developing. More coverage to come.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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