UPDATED with 21st Century Fox statement, 10:45 AM: NBC Universal Chief Executive Steve Burke believes that Comcast’s potential $31B acquisition of European pay-TV giant Sky will double the company’s footprint in English-language content and will boost its scripted TV and movie fortunes.
Burke, speaking this afternoon to investors following the offer, said, “You start from the position that we believe in scripted television, we believe in the movie business and we believe if you want to be in these businesses you need to try and distribute as broadly as you can and one way to think about it is that our English-language footprint roughly doubles with this deal.”
He said that the tie-up would allow for further vertical integration on the TV side, which could see NBCU’s production companies, which include Universal Television, Downton Abbey indie Carnival Films and joint ventures such as Working Title Television and David Heyman’s Heyday Films, working closer with Sky across Europe. Similarly, it may provide opportunities for Sky’s own production interests, which include drama indie Chrysalis Vision and New York-based Talos Films, to produce for NBC Universal channels.
In December, Sky Vision, run by Jane Millichip, partnered with Issa Rae, star of HBO’s Insecure, to pitch a dystopian sci-fi series The Awoken to broadcasters.
Burke added, “The way we run the company, we’re intimately tied to the studio side of the company and the channel side of the company and that has allowed us to produce a lot of content for NBC and USA, Syfy and Bravo and that has proved to be a good business and this will just expand that.”
21st Century Fox issued a statement, noting that no firm offer has been made by Comcast — and that it “remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky.” Fox offered $16 billion to acquire the 61% share of the British satellite broadcaster it doesn’t already own. The deal, which Fox had hoped to conclude prior to the planned Disney acquisition of much of its film and television assets, has run into difficulties.
A British regulator — the Competition and Markets Authority — provisionally rejected Fox’s offer in January, saying it would give Rupert Murdoch too much would control over the media landscape should the deal go through.