Comcast announced that it would drop out of the bidding war for assets currently owned by 21st Century Fox, paving the way for Disney to complete the Hollywood-shaking merger.
"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 earlier today. Comcast declined to exceed a $71.3 billion offer made by Disney for the bulk of Fox's assets, which includes the 20th Century Fox Studio, the cable studios FX and Nat Geo, and a stake in the Hulu streaming service.
Negotiations between Disney and Fox began in late 2017, but hit a snag when Comcast unexpectedly beat Disney's offer. Disney upped its offer in late June 2018 and it appears the price tag is just too high for Comcast (the parent company of NBC) to match.
"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," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
However, the battle between Disney and Comcast might not be over quite yet. Comcast is still pursuing a purchase of the European satellite TV provider Sky, which Fox (and by proxy, Disney) is also looking to obtain. Sky would give either Comcast or Disney a foothold in the European entertainment market, which is why both companies are looking to purchase it.
Still, Comcast dropping out of the 21st Century Fox bidding war means that Disney will obtain a treasure chest of valuable assets once the sale goes through. For comic book fans, these assets include the movie/TV rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, characters owned by Disney subsidiary Marvel. Fans have long desired to see characters like the Human Torch or Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Fox's successful X-Men movie franchise has prevented any real talks from emerging.
As part of the pending sale, Disney will sell off various regional Fox Sports networks to a third party due to anti-trust concerns. Fox will maintain control of the main Fox broadcasting network, along with Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 and the Fox News cable network.
The next major date in Disney and Comcast's media standoff is July 27th, when Sky shareholders vote on whether to sell to either Fox or Comcast.