Back in December, Disney officially announced that it had purchased many of 21st Century Fox’s assets, giving Bob Iger and company possession of everything from the X-men franchise to Fox’s regional sports networks, pending regulatory approval.
The purchase quickly sparked all kinds of discussion about how the purchase would affect sports media. How would Disney integrate all those regional sports nets with the ESPN brand? How would those networks benefit from ESPN’s infrastructure? Would Disney sell any of them? How would the consolidation of sports content affect carriage deals? Would there be crossover between the RSN’s and ESPN’s new ESPN+ platform? Would RSN content make its way to ESPN’s linear airwaves?
Well, all of those questions could potetially be moot. According to Reuters, Comcast has spoken to investment banks about bridge funding for an all-cash bid that would top Disney’s $52 billion offer. Having already bid last-minute for British TV group Sky plc, which Disney had planned to acquire as part of the Fox deal, Comcast now hopes to scuttle the rest of its rival’s big move.
Comcast reportedly out-bid Disney by 15 percent for the 21st Century Fox properties last year but was turned down due to antitrust concerns — which seem particularly salient amid holdups with the still-unresolved AT&T/Time Warner merger. Reuters reports that Comcast won’t officially submit its bid to Fox until after a judge rules on the AT&T/Time Warner marriage next month and then only if AT&T and Time Warner have prevailed.
Though it remains largely hypothetical for now, a Comcast purchase of 21st Century Fox properties would have massive implications on the sports front, with the cable giant suddenly possessing of a regional-sports-network empire (all of Fox’s channels plus its own existing collection) and Disney left empty-handed, with all sorts of grand plans ruined. Of course, Comcast’s bid could wind up falling short as the Disney-Fox deal proceeds unencumbered. We shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out.