Last week, the news broke that Disney had been engaged in talks to buy what was described as “most of” 21st Century Fox. Disney’s interest, it emerged, was driven as much by intellectual property rights as by the studio’s streaming ambitions. Not only would the buying Fox give Disney a considerable leg up with regard to their future streaming library, but the sale would also give them majority control of an extant streaming service (Hulu, to be precise). Before long, reports surfaced that the Disney talks had stalled.
Now, however, we’ve learned that Disney isn’t the only interested party. In addition to Disney, Fox has also been in talks with Comcast. Whether this means the Disney talks have fallen through or if Comcast’s interest is indicative of a bidding war, it’s too early to say. What it does confirm, though, is that 21st Century Fox and its assets are very much on the table.
And it’s the question of assets that makes this interesting. As in “What does the buyer stand to gain?” For Disney, that’s fairly obvious. They’d gain the rights to a plethora of content, including the original 1977 ‘Star Wars’ (unlike the other pre-Disney ‘Star Wars films, for which the distribution rights will eventually revert to Lucasfilm/Disney, Fox holds the original film’s distribution rights in perpetuity). And that’s barely scratching the surface.
But what about Comcast? That’s not entirely clear. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in an area where the telecom juggernaut has set up shop, then you know they chiefly operate as a service provider (primarily cable television and internet service). While Comcast does own NBC Universal, the telecom has never ventured directly into the realm of content creation, preferring to buy established media companies. Indeed, the available reporting on the subject has been remarkably vague as to whether Comcast’s interest is in specific assets (say, a cable network) or in purchasing the entire company. All we can really do at this time is speculate.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on this story as it develops.