Disney increases Fox bid in response to Comcast challenge

Mickey Mouse and Wolverine are close to playing nice, but the deal isn’t done yet. After the Walt Disney Co. and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox seemed to agree on a $52.4 billion deal in December 2017 that would give Disney the lion’s share of the movie and television assets from the Fox empire, a challenge from Comcast has slowly but surely cast a shadow over the deal, making the potential mega-merger less certain.

Comcast is reportedly preparing a significant all-cash offer for the Fox assets, according to Variety, and is expected to make the offer in advance of the summer vote by Fox shareholders that will decide which deal to take. The offer from Comcast is likely to take into account the $1.52 billion Fox will have to pay if it pulls out of the deal with Disney at this late stage, while also including provisions for a potential denial of the deal by national regulatory commissions.

This latest offer follows a previous one from Comcast reportedly totaling approximately $60 billion in cash, but the terms of the Disney deal were still more appealing to Fox’s board of directors, who rejected the Comcast offer. It seems Comcast is not willing to give up so easily on its mission to spoil Disney’s big plans — which could include, among many other significant results, a merging of the MCU and Fox’s X-Men universe.

In response to Comcast’s latest offer, Bloomberg has reported that Disney has increased its offering bid to Fox. Disney’s new offer comes in at about $38 per-share of Fox stock or slightly more than $71 billion.

The deal between Fox and Disney would have the latter company acquiring Fox’s movie and TV production company and popular channel Star India, as well as a 39-percent stake in European broadcaster Sky. Disney would also take ownership of a number of Fox’s pay-TV channels including FX and National Geographic. Disney wouldn’t get all that Fox has to offer, however, as Murdoch would still run the Fox News channel, the Fox broadcast network in the U.S., and the FS1 Sports network, as part of a new company spun off from 21st Century Fox.

A deal would also give either Disney or Comcast a majority stake in Hulu, as both companies currently own a 30 percent share, a coup for either media conglomerate, but one that would allow Disney to get a bigger head start in the streaming game as it prepares to launch a few of its own streaming services dedicated to its growing library of content.

The deal with Disney would also mean movies from 21st Century Fox franchises such as X-Men could be exclusively featured on Disney’s upcoming streaming service and, as referenced above, the Marvel superhero properties previously owned by Fox — including X-Men, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four — could be integrated into Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe.

The deal would also make Disney one of the biggest players in sports television. The company already owns ESPN, and it announced in November plans to launch a stand-alone streaming service for the sports network — named ESPN Plus — in spring 2018. With the acquisition of Fox’s broadcast networks, Disney would own numerous local Fox networks that air local baseball and basketball games.

These same elements of the Fox empire would likely go to Comcast if the competing offer is accepted, but industry pundits predict that a deal with Comcast would be under much more intense scrutiny from regulatory agencies, given Comcast’s current media holdings, which include not only a vast cable and internet empire, but also the movie and TV powerhouse NBCUniversal.

Whether Fox accepts an offer from Comcast or Disney, any deal that’s approved will then go to the Justice Department for regulatory review, which could reportedly take a year to complete, but may take even longer given the department’s recent involvement in big media company mergers. The Justice Department sued to block the $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner a year after the two companies agreed on the deal. The department lodged the lawsuit based on its belief that AT&T would use Time Warner’s popular programming to drive up prices for customers.

There’s also the small matter of needing Fox shareholders’ approval for any deal to go through. If either deal holds, and all goes well with the Justice Department and Fox shareholders, the entire entertainment landscape is primed for some big changes in 2018 — and beyond.

Updated June 24, 2018, with news regarding Disney’s latest offer to Fox.

Business

How T-Mobile plans to use 5G to challenge traditional ISPs

In a recent FCC statement, T-Mobile COO Michael Sievert outlined the company's plans to use 5G to challenge traditional ISPs such as Comcast and Charter. The company says it would offer lower rates and higher speeds.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Disney Play: Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming streaming service

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney Play compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
Movies & TV

Loki, Scarlet Witch, other Marvel characters to headline series on Disney Play

Loki, Scarlet Witch, and various other characters from Marvel's cinematic universe could be getting their own live-action series on Disney's streaming service when it launches in 2019. The actors from the movies will reprise their roles.
Home Theater

Amazon’s Fire TV Recast promises over-the-air shows, DVR for all your screens

Amazon has set its sights on the cord-cutting crowd with a new over-the-air HD receiver and DVR called the Fire TV Recast. The box, which starts at $229, can record two programs at the same time and stream live content to Fire TV devices.
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in October 2018

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for October 2018, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming…
Movies & TV

How much!? Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones hat fetches $520,000 at auction

Described by the auctioneer as "a globally recognized cinematic treasure," the fedora worn by Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark has just gone under the hammer for more than half a million bucks.
Movies & TV

'Daredevil' season 3 arrives next month, promises to 'let the devil out'

Season 3 of Daredevil will premiere October 19 on Netflix, so here is everything we know about the next set of adventures featuring Marvel Comics' man without fear before the third season's debut.
Movies & TV

How to watch NFL games online, with or without cable

The NFL's 2018 season is here, and we know you don't want to miss a moment of the action. Our comprehensive streaming guide will show you all the best options to watch the games online so you can make the right choice.
Gaming

‘Hellboy’ reboot screenwriter could helm animated ‘Diablo’ series on Netflix

Hellboy reboot screenwriter and Boom! Studios founder Andy Cosby has revealed that he's in talks to write and act as showrunner for an animated Diablo series on Netflix. Little else is known about the project.
Home Theater

'My Dinner with Hervé,' more 'Flight of the Concords' arrive on HBO in October

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. Follow us to find out what's new on HBO each month. October 2018 brings My Dinner With Hervé and Camping.
Movies & TV

Joaquin Phoenix puts on his 'Joker' makeup in new video

Todd Phillips is developing a stand-alone Joker origin story, with Joaquin Phoenix set to portray the Clown Prince of Crime. From casting to plot details, here's everything we know about the movie so far.
Podcasts

Loki's TV show, Twilight Zone teaser, Captain Marvel trailer

This week on Between the Streams, we're back from hiatus and ready to catch you up on all the cool things that have happened in the last two weeks, from new Marvel series set to debut on Disney Play to our first Captain Marvel trailer.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in September 2018, from 'Spotlight’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.