Comcast Chief Brian Roberts Claims Content Partnerships & Technology Synergies Driving $31B Sky Deal


Closer content collaboration between NBC Universal and Sky as well as technology synergies are driving Comcast’s $31B offer to acquire European pay TV giant Sky, according to Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts.

Speaking to investors this morning moments after its audacious offer to usurp 21st Century Fox’s bid, Comcast chiefs admitted that it was a “unique moment given all of the proposals in play.”

“I believe there are many opportunities on the English-speaking content side to work together,” said Roberts. “We’re able to sit down with the NBC creatives and Sky’s creative team and there will be synergistic opportunities to work together on show concepts, film distribution and technology. We think it’s a great fit.”

NBC Universal and Sky have previously worked together on a number of programming fronts. The two companies co-produced Cole Haddon-penned horror drama Dracula in 2013. The Jonathan Rhys Meyers-fronted series, which was produced by NBCU-owned Carnival Films, aired on NBC in the U.S. and Sky Living in the UK. Carnival Films also produces one of Sky’s biggest recent hits, Jamestown (above), which is currently in its second season.

Roberts said that the deal would allow it to “accelerate” its strategy of producing local content around the world. He added that he did not think a tie-up between Comcast and Sky would damage the two companies’ relationships with key content providers such as Time Warner-owned HBO. “Sky’s content relationships are with some of the same companies that Comcast has relationships with such as HBO. I think we’re all very familiar and comfortable in those relationships evolving as ownership and acquisitions occur in media business,” he said.

Technology will also drive a deal. Sky has been increasingly rolling out its next generation platform Sky Q, this morning announcing a landmark partnership with music service Spotify, while Comcast operates the X1 Cloud DVR service in the U.S. “In an increasingly all digital world with capabilities whether they’re in the cloud or in the settop box to have incredible consumer experiences reimagined from where they are today. The prospect of us working together and seeing where that will lead is a very exciting thought for me,” added Roberts.

Comcast has also promised to maintain Sky News, one of the underlying issues that has stalled the 21st Century Fox bid. “Comcast recognizes that Sky News is an invaluable part of the UK news landscape and the Company intends to maintain Sky News’ existing brand and culture, as well as its strong track record for high-quality impartial news and adherence to broadcasting standards.”

The US cable operator believes that because it only has a “minimal presence in the UK media market”, it does not believe that its proposal creates any media plurality concerns in the UK. It stated that it had no preference as to whether it owned 100% of Sky or 51%. The deal would bring together Comcast’s 29M subscribers in the U.S. with Sky’s 23M subscribers across Europe, taking the combined total to over 50M.

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