Comcast is considering outbidding Disney for the entertainment assets of Fox, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Undisclosed sources have told CNBC that Comcast, the parent of Universal theme park operator NBCUniversal, may top Disney’s bid for Fox if the merger of AT&T and Time Warner is allowed to go ahead.
The US Justice Department blocked the purchase of Time Warner by AT&T on competition grounds and the case is currently being argued in court. If the judge rules that the deal should go ahead then it could make it easier for big telecommunications corporations such as Comcast to buy media companies.
The deal includes 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, cable entertainment networks and international TV businesses. Disney would also acquire intellectual properties such as X-Men, Avatar, The Simpsons, FX Networks and National Geographic.
Should Comcast choose to proceed with a topping bid and it is successful, those intellectual properties would become available for use at Universal attractions rather than Disney.
According to CNBC, if Comcast were to make an unsolicited offer at a premium price it could persuade enough Fox shareholders to vote against the Disney deal. Disney is reportedly preparing for such a scenario and considering responses.
In an earnings call last month, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said: “Many of our peers are re-evaluating their strategies so along the way, there may be opportunities for us to create more value for our shareholders, like we did with NBCUniversal. In this respect, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we study every situation that comes along.”
Last month’s earnings report showed that theme park revenue for Comcast had increased by 10% in 2017, driven by new attractions such as Volcano Bay and Minion Park.