Earlier this month, we heard reports that Disney was in on-again, off-again talks to purchase 21st Century Fox. That purchase would entail all of the company’s assets except for the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, and Fox Sports. Those talks are now off again, and it looks like another corporate behemoth has entered the fray. According to Deadline, Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal as well as telecommunications that make pretty much all of its customers miserable, is now interested in purchasing 21st Century Fox.
The deal is pretty much the same one that Disney was going after—all of 21st Century Fox’s assets except for Fox broadcast, Fox News, and Fox Sports. That means if a deal went through, Comcast would snap up 20th Century Fox, some of its cable networks (FX and FXX, for example), and its stakes in satellite TV provider Sky, Star India and the Hulu streaming service.
The big difference here is that for fans, there’s zero upside. Universal doesn’t own any comic book properties and a merger wouldn’t create any new opportunities for crossovers unless you’ve been hankering for a fever-dream Ice Age/Fast and the Furious team-up. What it would do is reduce the number of major studios down by one so creators would have one less place to pitch their ideas.
But corporate consolidation is the name of the game, especially as media companies try to meet an overwhelming demand for content. Comcast can release all the Universal and NBC stuff it wants on its Xfinity platform, but at the end of the day, they would be more competitive if they could also offer 20th Century Fox movies and programming from FX. Naturally, the big loser in all of this is the consumer who has fewer choices on where to spend their dollars and less competition to make companies better. If you thought Comcast was bad now, just wait until they own two movie studios.
That’s not to say a deal will happen or that the government would necessarily approve the merger (although unless the minions start saying Trump is a chump, I don’t see why this administration would block it), but if it does, that consolidation will benefit shareholders, not consumers.