Variety reports cable giant Comcast has walked away from talks to purchase media assets from 21st Century Fox, leaving The Walt Disney Company as the presumptive buyer of film studio 20th Century Fox, its various media production assets, a piece of the Hulu streaming platform and most of its broadcast interests.
In a statement, the company said it “never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer.” With its overtures rebuffed, Comcast maintained that “we have a terrific company with a strong portfolio of businesses and will continue to focus on driving growth, innovating, creating great content, and providing excellent experiences for our customers.”
As CNBC first reported early in November, 21st Century Fox and Disney were in the midst of discussions to sell much of Fox’s media holdings to Disney, which would leave the parent company with its news interest, the FOX broadcast network and its national sports divisions. At the time, talk of the merger — said to be an “on-again, off-again” thing for sometime — sent the stocks of 21st Century Fox soaring. Last week, the talks were said to have continued in the wake of the earlier report and that they were “deeper and further along” than Fox’s discussions with Comcast, who also emerged as another suitor for the assets.
In our little corner of the world, the prospect of Disney acquiring the rights to the X-Men and potentially the Fantastic four — though Slashfilm notes the rights situation there is a little more complicated — is exciting for fans who want to see the character integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Star Wars fans hope Disney’s complete ownership of the original film may lead to a release of a high definition release of the original Star Wars trilogy as it was first screened in theaters.
But others note the merging of 20th Century Fox and Disney represents a dangerous shrinkage in the media landscape as more and more assets end up in the hands of fewer people. Film buffs fear the complete destruction of Fox’s film lot in Los Angeles and the “Disney-fication” of its established brands. And yet still others joke that the Aliens will become Disney princesses as they are, technically, children of a Queen.
At this point, it seems like a done deal, with some expecting an announcement within days. And should it happen, it will be strange to cover a world where Fox is part of Disney’s massive empire.