September 19, 2018

Netflix Clout Showing in Media Wars


With Comcast and Disney dueling over Rupert Murdoch’s Fox media, Netflix could benefit from the bidding war.

With Comcast and Disney dueling over Rupert Murdoch’s Fox media, Netflix could benefit from the bidding war.

The change-partners dance includes a plan by Disney to launch a family-friendly Netflix rival next year. It also plans to use content it is going to purchase from 21st Century Fox, including movies and TV shows, to fortify streaming competitor Hulu, which Disney partly owns. In conjunction with Disney’s ESPN Plus sports-streaming service, the Disney/Fox deal seemed destined to create a real force in the streaming word.

Enter Comcast and its bid to steal Fox out from under Disney and the picture changes. Comcast offered $65 billion in cash, considerably more than the Disney offer of $52 billion in stock. A bidding war is the likely result. As of mid-June, Fox was considering whether to cancel or postpone its shareholder vote on the Disney-Fox merger.

Netflix could benefit from a split of Fox’s assets. A break-up of some key assets to a bevy of bidders would negate regulatory hurdles could make things nicer for competitors, according to media industry gurus.

Should Disney win, it would control about 40 percent of the box office, more than a dozen of the top TV networks and Hulu, one of Netflix’s top rivals.

Netflix has been poaching creators from Disney, Fox and other media outlets to improve its content. And Disney is coming to the end of a deal to send its new movies to Netflix in 2019.

Ultimately, insiders say, the winner in the push-pull contest will take all. Netflix is watching from the sidelines to see which way the battle leans.

About Twila Van Leer

Journalist/writer for more than 50 years. Pulitzer Prize nominee, 1983 for coverage of the first permanent artificial heart. More than 50 national, regional, local awards for news writing. Main writer for a memorial book for Deseret News' 150 th anniversary and for a book recounting the 1997 re-enactment of the pioneer trek from Omaha to Salt Lake City. Co-writer and editor of "True Valor," a book on the history of the artificial heart. Author of the book, Life Is Just A Bowl Of Kumquats, a wonderful story of a house wife and her trials with raising a large family.