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Disney has won the battle for 21st Century Fox, with Comcast surrendering the field to Apple's ally.
Bringing to an end a bidding war between two of the world's leading entertainment conglomerates, Comcast has announced that it's giving up on purchasing the 21st Century Fox assets from News Corp., paving the way for the Walt Disney Company to buy them.
"Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. "I'd like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company."
The assets purchased include Fox's movie and TV studios, the FX cable networks, and the Fox regional sports networks. Other Rupert Murdoch-owned assets, such as Fox News, the Fox TV network, and newspapers, will remain part of News Corp. Murdoch, ironically, has made multiple attempts to the past to purchase Sky TV.
The Disney acquisition will require approval of government regulators, although it already cleared one hurdle. The Trump Administration has opposed, with little success, the recent acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T.
The history of the battle
The saga began in November 2017 when initital reports stated that Disney was in talks to buy Fox's movie and TV studio assets. A large percentage of the initial media coverage centering on what the deal meant for the different superheroes (X-Men, The Avengers) that might be brought into the same fictional universe.
Disney announced in December of last year that it had indeed bid to acquire the Fox assets for $52.4 billion. In June, Comcast made a $65 billion all-cash bid to beat out Disney for the deal.
Disney came back with an offer that exceeded $70 billion that same month.
While Fox shareholders were scheduled to vote later this month, Comcast backed out on Thursday.
Apple and 21st Century Fox
The outcome of the deal appears to favor Apple, as the company has long enjoyed strong ties with Disney, from Steve Jobs' involvement with Pixar to Disney CEO Robert Iger's seat on the Apple board of directors. Apple recently made iPhones and other training materials available to Disney for a "#DreamBigPrincess" video project.
On the other hand, the Fox deal will bring a huge new amount of content to Disney's upcoming streaming service, which will provide even stiffer competition to Apple's own content plans.
Some speculation has had Apple, amidst the current wave of media consolidation, moving to purchase a studio or distributor themselves.