Tuesday the deal between Disney and Fox came another step closer to being finalized. As the Justice Department approves the deal, which is now worth a reported $71 billion dollars. The deal comes with a stipulation, as Disney must sell off 21 of the 23 regional sports networks. Anti-trust chief Makan Delrahim argued that because Disney already owns ESPN, the acquisition of Fox’s regional sports channels would create anti-competitive conflicts.
“American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox’s cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher,” Delrahim said. “Today’s settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution.”
So what EXACTLY does this mean? It means that Disney has 90 days to either sell of the sports affiliates, or restructure the deal to not include them. It’s likely that Disney will sell the networks to a third party, rather than try to restructure the deal.
While the deal seems all but sealed, there’s still hope for Comcast, who just a few weeks ago made a bid to buy Fox for around $6 million dollars, in an all cash deal. While the deal seems to be just about finalized, Disney and Fox have postponed a meeting originally scheduled for July 10th, until July 27th. Shareholders will then meet and vote on whether or not to accept the bid. This gives Comcast plenty of time to make another bid, which seems likely. Comcast is reportedly looking for a partner to help with the acquisition, should the deal go any higher. Meanwhile, major shareholder TCI Fund Management is urging for more time for Comcast to counter the offer, and is “strongly motivated” to support whichever deal reaches the highest price.
Some analysts say that the bidding could go as high as $90 billion dollars, which given the amount of properties and shares in various networks, seems very likely.
Stay tuned as we follow this story and all the developments.