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Businesses Media The Almighty Buck

Comcast Confirms Plan To Buy 21st Century Fox and Control of Hulu (arstechnica.com) 65

Comcast is reportedly preparing an offer to buy major portions of 21st Century Fox, which would give it majority control of Hulu and other media properties. Ars Technica reports: Walt Disney Company already has a $52.4 billion all-stock deal to buy the 21st Century Fox properties. But Comcast was rumored to be lining up $60 billion in financing in order to make a hostile bid for the Fox assets, and Comcast's announcement today confirms it. Comcast "is considering, and is in advanced stages of preparing, an offer for the businesses that Fox has agreed to sell to Disney," Comcast's announcement said. Comcast is working on the offer in preparation for shareholder meetings in which the Disney/Fox deal will be considered.

The Fox properties for sale do not include assets such as the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Broadcasting Company. Those properties would be spun off into a company being referred to as "New Fox," and Comcast would acquire 21st Century Fox after the spinoff. The Fox sale to either Disney or Comcast would include 21st Century Fox's film and television studios; cable entertainment networks; the Fox Sports Regional Networks; and international properties including Star in India and Fox's 39-percent ownership of Sky across Europe. The sale would also include Fox's 30-percent stake in Hulu, the popular online video streaming service. Comcast already owns 30 percent of Hulu, so a deal with Fox would give the nation's largest cable company majority control over the online video provider.

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Comcast Confirms Plan To Buy 21st Century Fox and Control of Hulu

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    As unacceptable ideas go, this is only short of giving Donald Trump the Nobel Prize for Literature, and just worse than living inside a nuclear reactor core.

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @06:50PM (#56662342) Journal
    Wow, you 'cut the cord' on companies like Comcast and went to streaming services like Hulu, and now guess what? You'll be giving your money to Comcast again anyway, if this deal goes through.
    • by Zaelath ( 2588189 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @06:53PM (#56662356)

      People cut the cord because the pricing model sucks, it's not like any of these companies aren't ultimately on a scale between immoral and malevolent.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They keep the price and service the same, can keep enjoying our money. They try and treat Hulu like they did their Cable or Internet stuff, can cut Hulu too.

      I can do without just fine and plenty more have no issues starting up PirateBay and torrents again if the price or the content is too out of whack.

      • by bursch-X ( 458146 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @11:42PM (#56663396)
        This!
        I hate to quote Steve Jobs, but when he launched the iTunes Music Store he said the way to compete with piracy is to offer a service that is easier and better than Snapster, or at least easy and good enough that people think it's worth paying for, and I think he hit the nail on the head.

        Let that be a warning that if offers start to suck again, we'll easily revert back to torrenting, if you don't make it worthwhile.
    • No, you won't be giving your money to Hulu. Comcast will shut Hulu down.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        hulu will become the subscription-based and exclusive streaming home of everything comcast, nbc, universal, and (non news) fox. all can be yours for $24.99 monthly with ads - same amount of those as on television, or $39.99 without, and every bit transmitted will count against your cap.. unless you have comcast's highest-tier gig service or a top-tier and expensive wireless data plan from their exclusive wireless 'partner' (that is, unless they buy one of those, too). the available library will rotate, so y

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Let's not forget that, after three months, the $39.99 for no ads will start to show some ads. Not as many as the $24.99 package, mind you.

    • Good thing we have net neutrality or this would be a major problem. Whew! crisis avoided!

    • You'll be giving your money to Comcast again anyway, if this deal goes through.

      Comcast already owns like 30% of Hulu. Disney and Fox each also own like 30% apiece.

    • Hulu has always been owned by comcast, fox and others. Just like Verizon trying to get rid of copper, the ISP's are probably going to try to get rid of their cable box businesses and simply sell streaming packages without the overhead of the cable box

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      Sounds like a good excuse to cut Hulu lose.

    • It won't be an issue until they try to ramp up the cost of Hulu, then people will ditch it and go back to pirating.
  • Comcast own 90% Regional Networks no way!

  • If this happens then the ATT / timewarner deal needs to happen as well.

    • realistically Murdoch has to figure out how much tax he will pay

      There is lots of tax in a cash deal so the bid has to be much higher

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Incidentally, TFA says they'll only attempt to proceed with this IF the ATT/time warner deal is approved. If it's not, then Disney's current offer will likely stand.

  • Please make Hulu available in Canada.

  • Comcast over-leverages itself with debt trying to get the money for this "all cash offer" and then fails to do anything successful with the pieces (e.g. under their control X-men ends up being Dark Universe 2) and eventually ends up having to sell it to Disney anyways at a huge net loss.

    • Re:Prediction (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slaker ( 53818 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @07:51PM (#56662666)

      Marvel's license deal for its properties is actually non-transferable. If Fox is sold to some other party, the agreement that gave Fox rights to stuff like X-men and Deadpool is voided. Those rights will be returned to Disney/Marvel regardless. I'm sure there will be legal wrangling over it but as I understand it, that happens regardless of any other deal.

      But will Comcast be a decent steward of other Fox IPs like the Simpsons or Avatar? I sincerely doubt it. Look what it did with the Universal Monsters.

      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        Can't Fox the entity still exist?

        Fox spins off a second company

        Comcast buys the original, but keeps it as a separate entity (keeps the shares as existing, not giving a portion of Comcast shares to the company's shareholders)

        21st Century Fox still owns X-men

        It's likely why the deal is structured that way even.

      • Non-transferable means that Fox can't sell the rights to someone else. Whatever business unit owns the rights can be bought and sold wholesale however without negating the licensing rights. Fox can be sold with the rights can go with Fox in the sale. Rupert Murdoch isn't the license holder, some random business unit within 21st Century Fox is the license holder.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    $500 initialization fee, $29.95/month for SD stream, $49.95/month for HD stream, Add'l $19.95 per Gb if you go over 50Gb of shows per month, $25 in fees and taxes, and $1000 Hulu cancellation fee if you're not happy.

  • by stikves ( 127823 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @07:09PM (#56662440) Homepage

    If I read correctly that do not actually have the *cash* to pay for this takeover, but will finance the operation. Given how recently ToysRUs had a very slow and painful death due to a similar leveraged buyout, I do not expect this one to go well either.

    According to their financials, Fox made ~3bn last year in profits:
    https://finance.yahoo.com/quot... [yahoo.com]

    This means it will take 20 years for them to pay off the 60bn debt. This assumes no investment in R&D, staff, or paying dividends. (That is why ToysRUs become unable to compete, they had no profit margin left after payments).

    Comcast is in a better position with 20bn in profits:
    https://finance.yahoo.com/quot... [yahoo.com]

    However will they skim from shareholder dividends to pay for Fox operations? It looks like they are already down by about 2%, meaning the idea is not liked on the market.

    And this is before anything about the customers. They would want to milk every *value* out of current customers, meaning worse service and/or higher prices across the board.

    I do not have any shares in any of these companies, however if I had one, I would have voted against such a merger. (for clarification, I'm no financial expert, this is my personal opinion, don't act on it)

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I don't think Comcast really knows how to run a film studio either, which means there likely won't be many synergies.

      I think it's defenive though, they don't want Disney to have Hulu and use it for Disney streaming. It would really weakened them vs Disney if Disney had a content distribution network and decent streaming service (Hulu is worse than Netflix, but better than. HBO in the quality of the app IMO, and Mike's above other random streaming services).

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      So you say this will break the company? I fail to see the "bad" part you talk about in your subject.

  • That Comcast doesn't fuck up the reversion of Marvel properties to Marvel/Disney.

  • You think Copyright lengths are bad now. Expect to pay by the second for all media, and you will have no rights at all. We need to break these companies up, not let them keep merging into one blob.

  • by youngone ( 975102 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @09:01PM (#56662910)
    This is a very good thing for Americans because choice is confusing and just makes people angry.
    This is another step towards that glorious future when there is one business in every market so Americans don't have to spend their valuable time trying to decide what to buy.
    Merge the banks next.
    • by crtreece ( 59298 )

      that glorious future when there is one business so Americans don't have to spend their valuable time trying to decide what to buy.

      FTFY.

  • As much as the industry whines and complains about their losses to piracy, you'd think they'd be glad to dump these money losers. Yet their value skyrockets along with the monopoly that only benefits industry insiders. And yes, they're pushing again to extend their exclusive copyright holdings for many more years.

    This industry should be investigated as a criminal cartel.

  • This is the first time I noticed that theyâ(TM)re not 20th Century Fox anymore...
  • Remember: Comcast owns NBC. It'll be fun when they also own Fox.

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