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Comcast Positioned to Win UK Bidding War for Sky

Friday, July 20th, 2018 (9:04 am) - Score 2,339

The complicated four way acquisition battle between Disney, 21st Century Fox, Sky (Sky Broadband) and Comcast took an interesting turn yesterday after the latter dropped its own pursuit of Fox, which market analysts suggest will leave Disney to gobble Fox but open the door to a Comcast buy of Sky (i.e. Fox probably won’t bid again).

A few years ago it was all much simpler, when we only had Rupert Murdoch‘s (Fox) long running pursuit of Sky to consider. Then Disney decided that they wanted to buy Fox, which also meant they became involved in the potential acquisition of Sky. Following that Comcast entered the fray, initially with an interest in Sky and then expanding (some would say, strategically) that to include a possible purchase of Fox.

At this point the whole bidding war became a complicated mess but recently Comcast had begun to signal to the market that they might stop their pursuit of Fox, which would leave the company to be gobbled by Disney. The suggestion is that Disney might in turn decline to increase their bid for Sky, leaving the latter to Comcast (they last made a $34bn proposal).

Comcast Statement

“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.”

Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO, added:

“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.”

In terms of broadband provision, Comcast are probably a better bet for Sky than Fox would have been. Fox was always much more interested in Sky for their TV and media empire, which left a distinct air of uncertainty to hang around the operator’s broadband ISP business in the UK.

Lest we forget that Sky Broadband is still the second biggest broadband provider in the UK after BT. But you’d be forgiven for not knowing that given how quiet they’ve been in the heated debate around future “full fibre” (FTTP/H) network provision. Sky ruled itself out of the full fibre race over a year ago and they’ve been virtually silent on the subject ever since. We don’t even know if they plan to offer G.fast based ultrafast broadband.

By comparison Comcast are a more broadband centric business and they’d be much more likely to shake things up in a positive way, as well as being more politically and publicly acceptable with fewer regulatory barriers to worry about. Most UK people don’t know who Comcast are but precious few are fans of Murdoch.

Under the wings of Comcast we could see Sky adopt a much more aggressive position in the UK broadband market again, not least of which could include a greater focus on building or acquiring more of their own network infrastructure. Sky are already on the path to replacing Satellite based TV provision with a broadband based model so this would fit nicely into that particular picture.

We should know the outcome of all this very soon.

Leave a Comment
25 Responses
  1. Avatar 3G Infinity (now 4G going on 5G) says:

    Look forward to seeing Comcast here, revenues from selling Sky content in US can be used to exetend broadband offering in UK, including FTTP unless of course the combined entity merges with Virgin – Comcast is the largest cable operator in the US.

    1. Avatar Simon says:

      yes and they are traffic capped and slow – ask anyone who uses them.- 500GB cap on FTTP? no thanks!

      I hope they leave THAT in the USA

    2. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Their Xfinity (which is their FTTP line of products) has plenty of options with no limits.

    3. Avatar Simon says:

      But they will never do it here – the UK will still be battling for it in 2030 wait and see

    4. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      How do you know?
      How long do you think it would take to deliver a FTTP solution from scratch to the whole country?
      Are you just whinging for whinging sake?

  2. Avatar Neb says:

    I’ve heard from US contacts that Comcast is expensive and large being fairly unchallenged in areas, basically like a BT in the US.
    Anyone got any knowledge and opinions on that front?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Comcast, Charter, AT&T and Verizon tend to be the largest four in the USA. Both Comcast and Charter are DOCSIS based Cable networks with a little FTTP/H, while AT&T uses a mix of ADSL, VDSL and FTTP/H technologies and it’s a similar story for Verizon.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      So while we were using aerials for our TV the United States was using cable. They didn’t have a Sky moving in and capturing big hunks of the pay TV market, cable thrived. They have not far off 100% coverage with cable, and the majority of their pay TV remains delivered over it.

      There are few areas where there are multiple cable providers. The main difference between the USA and ourselves in terms of competition is that the telcos, Verizon, AT&T, etc, get to keep their networks to themselves, so in many cases you either buy cable or you buy from their equivalent of BT directly.

    3. Avatar Chris P says:

      looks like Direct TV and Dish network, both US satellite providers, have as many customers as the 2 largest US cable providers. Cable is not 100% coverage

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_in_the_United_States#Cable_and_satellite_television

      DirecTV and Dish Network are the major DBS providers in the country, with 20 and 14 million customers respectively as of February 2014.[32] Meanwhile, the major cable television providers are Comcast with 22 million customers, Time Warner Cable with 11 million, and Cox Communications, Charter Communications, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS with five to six million each.

  3. Avatar JamesMJohnson says:

    “Under the wings of Comcast we could see Sky adopt a much more aggressive position in the UK broadband market again”
    Are you kidding me ? Comcast lobbied and fought against net neutrality only to then sell additional tiers of service for different types of data.
    The majority of issues/outages that occur in the US are within Comcasts network and then there’s the monopoly position they abuse to avoid investment in areas (upgrading/repairing).
    …. Comcast, in my opinion, would be bad for Sky.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Different market, different rules, different approach. Companies always have to adapt when going abroad. Lest we forget that Sky would also like to adopt a similar approach to the one you’ve just described, in fact I think many of the big players would, but over this side of the pond it’s a bit more difficult and they don’t have a ‘Trump’ on their side.

    2. Avatar Simon says:

      Well when you are reporting what the guy said above – maybe then you will understand how BAD this is for SKY – it will end my sky subs after 15 years that’s for sure.

    3. Avatar CarlT says:

      Please would you show me where Comcast are selling different tiers for different types of data on their fixed line network?

      They have bit caps and their record with transit and peering with third party services isn’t stellar but do not manage traffic in any other way, shape or form on their own network as far as I’m aware and they’ve far fewer incentives for this behaviour in the UK.

    4. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      I think he is confusing them with AT&T

    5. Avatar Simon says:

      Carl,

      All I can see is this for different tiers.

      https://www.xfinity.com/learn/offers?lob=tv,internet

      If they did 1-2Gbps in the UK that would be worth looking into. The price looks decent too for a res based service

    6. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Try unticking the TV option for 1Gb internet option for $89.99

  4. Avatar Skyrocket says:

    Comcast take over would mean very move for UK SKY. It’s will end up less channels but cost more in subscription. This the end of the road for all Sky customers soon. RIP Sky bye bye good riddance.

    1. Avatar Simon says:

      I would swap it all for 1 or 2Gbps internet – epecially as comcast seem to pipe the TV down the connection too.

  5. Avatar Mike says:

    rip sky 🙁

  6. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

    Hopefully Disney manages to buy Sky as feel that it will be better for the U.K. going forward than Comcast owning them it’s still not a certainty that Comcast will own them.

  7. Avatar Carl T says:

    What are people expecting Comcast to do with Sky that’s so bad?

    Sky are hardly an altruistic entity, their entire business model is throwing billions at getting exclusive access to content and rinsing their subscribers to make it back.

    Comcast want the content. They may even consider either building or acquiring their own access network given their experience.

    I have no doubt they’ve an interest in acquiring Virgin Media UK and Ireland and that has quite some potential: Comcast are a cable technology leader. They’ve even sold a symmetrical 2Gb fibre service.

    1. Avatar Clifford says:

      Can you imagine their comments if it was Murdochs bid that was accepted and allowed?

    2. Avatar Simon says:

      Can’t wait for that flyer to come through the door!

    3. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

      It’s more I think Disney could easily bring more content to Sky then Comcast could.

  8. Avatar Simon says:

    My OVH business server has a 2Gbps link – Currently uploading via FTP from the server to work servers 2 files at a time 116MB/sec each – so 1Gbps or 2Gbps would do me whatever the cost

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