Is Comcast 'Doubling Down on the Past' With Sky Bid?

By Carlo Versano

Comcast's $38.8 billion winning bid for British satellite broadcaster Sky was a "shocking price" to pay for international expansion, said BTIG media and tech analyst Rich Greenfield.

Investors seemed to agree ー Comcast ($CMCSA) shares were down as much as 8 percent in morning trading on Monday.

Over the weekend, Comcast beat out 21st Century Fox ($FOXA) in a unique blind auction in front of British regulators. Comcast's bid of about $22.60 a share was significantly higher than Fox's. Competition between the companies raged all summer long as the two industry veterans struggle to remain relevant in a new-media, streaming universe.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the deal that would allow Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., to "quickly, efficiently, and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.” Sky has 23 million subscribers in Europe for its core satellite business and a growing broadband network of content, including exclusive rights to Premier League soccer.

Price aside, Greenfield said Monday in an interview on Cheddar that Comcast is "doing what they know best" and "staying in their lane." Rather than responding to the cord-cutting and the ever-present threat of Netflix by getting into streaming itself, the company is looking to international expansion for growth.

Additionally, the acquisition keeps Disney ($DIS) from gaining full control of Sky via its acquisition of Fox's entertainment assets ー the company beat out Comcast in its battle for Fox over the summer. Disney will now hold 39 percent of Sky, and investors are looking to see whether Disney unloads the stake or remains as a minority owner. One theory gaining traction is that Comcast could swap its 30 percent stake in Hulu for Disney's stake in Sky.

Comcast shareholders still need to approve the Sky deal and decide, effectively, if a bigger footprint in a rapidly changing media environment is worth the huge cost.

"This seems to be doubling down on the past," Greenfield said.

For full interview click here.

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