We've all been treating the Disney and FOX deal as if it's signed, sealed and delivered, but smashing together two companies of those sizes (with lots of subsidiaries) isn't an easy or timely process. Recent estimates by FOX CEO Peter Rice pointed toward Summer 2019 as a possible closing estimate, which leaves plenty of time for a company like Comcast to swoop in with a competing offer, which, apparently, is exactly what the cable giant is planning to do.
According to Reuters, Comcast is currently in talks with various investment banks with an eye toward freeing up $60B... in cash. The framework of the Disney deal involves a lot of stock, which one could sell for cash, of course, but there's just something about the allure of money that has a certain X-factor to it. Will that be enough to make FOX consider nixing the Mouse House and re-open bidding? At this point, it's unclear. I suspect it depends on whether or not the Comcast offer materializes, which is still an if at this point, primarily for one specific reason.
There has been a lot of chatter about whether two companies like FOX and Disney or FOX and Comcast joining forces would be a good thing for consumers. In fact, the United States Department of Justice was so unhappy when AT&T and Time Warner proposed a merger that its lawyers sued to stop it. That case has wound its way through the legal system, and a decision is expected in June. If the courts say no to that deal, the assumption is Comcast would back away from the all cash offer. Why waste time, energy and effort on something that's likely to get shot down? If the deal goes through, however, then sources close to the situation are saying the offer will almost certainly come.
The truth is it's hard to know, from a consumer perspective, which deal is better. Of course comic book fans want to see Fox and Disney (and by extension Marvel) mashed together in order to create crossover movies (even if it costs them a Deadpool joke in the process). And yes, we'd all like to see the X-Men or Fantastic Four in a future Avengers movie, but those properties are just a tiny piece of the puzzle. Which partner would actually be the better support to continue creating great content across the board is a matter of debate, and we'll probably never know the right answer since there's no way to A-B test these mergers.
With increased competition from streaming services like Netflix and an almost market-wide obsession with companies creating and owning their own content, there are arguably more players at the table than ever before. Whether it remains its own entity or not, here's to hoping FOX or its influence are responsible for decades more worth of incredible movies.