Comcast, Verizon throw their hats into the ring
The possible sale of 21st Century Fox’s assets has now become an all-out battle royale.
CNBC reported Thursday its parent company Comcast is now exploring joining in the race to buy the studio and the Wall Street Journal reported that Verizon has also joined in.
They join Disney in seeking the rights to product such as The Simpsons and This Is Us, as a report surfaced two weeks ago.
The reports state both Comcast and Verizon approached 21st Century Fox about purchasing the part of the company up for sale, including the film studio, a large television library, and cable channels such as FX, FXX, and National Geographic (Fox’s broadcast network, owned TV stations, Fox News and Fox Sports are among the assets not for sale.)
NBC merged with Universal in 2004, and in December 2009, the Philadelphia-based cable conglomerate announced a purchase the merged entity for more than one billion. and approved by the FCC in January 2011. Comcast’s assets include NBC, Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo, several cable channels (including the aforementioned CNBC), and is a giant cable and broadband provider who serves the Chicago area.
Verizon is a giant telecommunications company who is now exploring ways to get into the content game as rival AT&T is in the process of acquiring TimeWarner, now being held up by the Justice Department.
The news further illustrates the desire of the Murdochs to move away from the entertainment business and to focus more on news and sports. Fox News alone generates a lot of revenue for 21st Century Fox.
Disney and Comcast both own broadcast networks, so buying all of 21st is not in the cards as it would run afoul of anti-trust issues. The revelations come as the FCC officially relaxed the media ownership rules, giving broadcasters more freedom to buy up each other (more on that in the next post.) Comcast owns several NBC and Telemundo stations, including WMAQ-TV and WSNS-TV here.