Murdoch Was An Observer As Comcast Beat Disney For Sky Control

There is only one story in town this morning. It's not too surprising to hear that Comcast has won the right to be Sky's new owner for a cool GBP30bn price tag.

The American cable giant, which also owns NBC Universal and NBC, will concede it is a high price to pay, but then Sky is Europe's leading satellite broadcaster (and UK telco) which it claims will save it GBP500m a year through sharing of joint programming costs. 

Ultimately, however, the interesting part in all this has very little to do with Rupert Murdoch. To get the full picture of what was going on behind the scenes The Guardian offers a glimpse in the view from the Murdoch camp, while The Times has excellent coverage from Comcast's point of view. 

It had famously tried to buy Disney in 2004 and was then more recently outbid by Disney to take control of 21st Century Fox, including the company's 39% share of Sky. The Times is clear that this represents a major coup for Comcast boss, Brian Roberts, who has finally landed a deal from under Disney's nose. 

According to The Guardian, the truly interesting aspect is analysts suggesting Rupert Murdoch had no part in the Fox bid for Sky. Fox's soon-to-be new owner, Disney, was apparently calling the shots on whether to trump Comcast or push the price up. 

For Disney, via Fox, it was the ultimate win-win. On the one hand, it could control Europe's leading satellite broadcaster and on the other, it could ensure a rival paid top dollar for the company which it owns a 39% stake in. That shareholding is now valued at GBP12bn -- which, let's face it -- is a rather nice payday for Fox's new owner should it sell up. In fact, it is worth pointing out that the same amount of money could feasibly have bought Sky out entirely during the first half of the current decade.

Talk is already turning to whether Disney may swap its 39% stake in Sky for Comcast's 30% share in Hulu. Or maybe Disney would fund its own streaming service with the GBP12bn due from its Sky shares? It could, of course, keep them if it wanted to prove a point to Comcast. Three options, with the first two presenting very agreeable business outcomes. It's not a bad problem to have. And Comcast has the company it wanted to buy, so feasibly, everyone should be happy?

Whatever the outcome, observers need to avoid the temptation to see this as Rupert Murdoch being given a bloodied nose. He was barely involved in a process that is about him switching much of his media assets into a sizeable chunk of Disney stock. 

The interesting part of the story was always the battle between old adversaries Disney and Comcast. We have yet to see the final chapter played out as Disney decides what to do with its GBP12bn Sky stake. That will be as interesting as the takeover battle itself.

Next story loading loading..