“There is nothing going on right now with us considering a large media play,” he said during this morning’s conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the company’s fourth-quarter results. “In fact, if you look at the actions we have taken [with recent streaming deals for NFL and NBA games], we think being a great partner, monetizing through advertising and being independent” is the best path. “Until further notice, that’s what our investors should assume that we’re doing.”
Given rival AT&T’s aggressive play for Time Warner and Verizon’s substantial war chest, the top wireless provider has been mentioned in merger scenarios with several players, including most recently Lionsgate. The company’s initial discussions with 20th Century Fox reportedly kicked off the roundelay last year that saw Comcast, Sony and others enter the mix before Disney ultimately prevailed.
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“It’s nice to be loved,” McAdam quipped. “There certainly is a lot of interest here [from suitors], which frankly we ignore.”
As to the company’s broader view of the landscape, he added, “There’s a lot of movement. We don’t even know if AT&T-Time Warner will get approved.”
The message that Disney and Fox are sending with their deal, McAdam continued, “is that scale matters. You have to take a look at whether being a big independent distributor is a reasonable alternative to owning content.” That can’t be fully determined, he conceded, “until this [M&A activity] all shakes out.”
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