It looks like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has been outmaneuvered by Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS). The House of Mouse was forced to up its bid for Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) (NASDAQ:FOXA), but it looks like it will prevail in securing those assets.
In December, Fox agreed to sell Disney its entertainment assets, including its movie studios; cable-television assets, including FX and FXX; and its regional sports networks. This includes franchises like Avatar, rights to certain Marvel characters, and TV properties including The Simpsons, all for $52 billion. Comcast offered more ($65 billion) in cash, but it looks like Disney will prevail with its latest offer of $71 billion in stock and cash.
Under the terms of the deal, Disney will sell off Fox's regional sports networks in an attempt to please federal regulators. Fox will retain its broadcast network, FS1, FS2, Fox Sports, and Fox Business.
Intellectual property has become so important that not spending $65 billion is seen as a blow to Comcast. Adding these assets will strengthen Disney in numerous areas including film, its new streaming service, and even its theme parks (though it won't gain back the Marvel rights held by Comcast at its Florida Universal Studios parks).
While there is no guarantee Disney will gain full approval for the deal from regulators, it does appear Comcast is not going to step in and secure the Fox properties. So Comcast shares, which closed 2017 at $40.05, dropped to $32.81 at the end of June, an 18% drop, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Comcast is now focusing on its bid for Sky PLC, a satellite company based in England. Its competition for that asset is Fox, which will be flush with Disney's cash assuming the deal goes through.
Losing the Fox deal, however, is a long-term blow for Comcast. Disney's purchases of Lucasfilm and Pixar have paid off at the box office; they also allowed Disney to add Pixar-themed properties at various theme parks around the world. In addition, next year's launch of Star Wars-themed lands at Disney World and Disneyland will rival or surpass the success of Comcast's Harry Potter lands at its U.S. Universal Studios parks.
Movie and theme-park attractions are only a piece of the puzzle for those properties, and Disney may soon be able to add even more franchises to its mix. That will give it an ongoing edge over Comcast, and buying Sky won't lessen the blow of missing out on the Fox deal.