By Peter Gleason
It’s been a while since Philly-based entertainment giant Comcast had a big win.
It tried and failed to buy 21st Century Fox, losing out to Disney.
It tried to buy Time-Warner but the FCC said no.
But yesterday it more than made up for those failings by outbidding 21st Century Fox to take control of British broadcaster Sky for about $39 billion. It came out on top in a three-round auction held by British regulators by offering about $2 more per share.
Both Comcast and Fox wanted Sky to compete with online streaming services Netflix and Amazon.
Sky has 23 million subscribers and owns the rights to the English Premier League soccer games. Comcast found Sky attractive because it provides a foothold in Europe and will make it less dependent on the United States.
Comcast-owned NBC Universal already owns the rights to EPL games in the USA.
Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, which owned part of Sky, had wanted to acquire the entire company for years.
But Langfitt reports that efforts by Fox “were derailed following a phone-hacking scandal involving Murdoch’s British tabloids. The British government also raised questions about whether the complete acquisition of Sky would put too much media power in Murdoch’s hand.”
Since then, Fox has agreed to sell most of its entertainment assets to Disney.
In a statement, Sky recommended that shareholders accept Comcast’s offer and sell their shares immediately.
“Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand and accomplished management team,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts (above) said in a statement. “This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”
Comcast said it hoped to complete the takeover by the end of October.