The news, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, emerged about a week after The Walt Disney Company’s interest in buying a large chunk of Fox was revealed.
With the Disney talks said to be stalled, NBCUniversal (NBCU) owner Comcast has reportedly made its own takeover intentions known.
Like the Disney deal, Comcast would look to buy the Fox TV and film studio in Hollywood, cable channels such as FX and National Geographic, and international assets including more than 300 branded networks and stakes in India’s Star TV and Europe’s Sky.
The Fox broadcast network, plus sports and news assets would not be included.
Any deal with Fox would stretch competition regulators, as Comcast, which Steve Burke (pictured) leads, already owns the Universal studio lot, NBCU and its subsidiary cable channels such as USA Network and Bravo, and the NBC broadcast network.
Comcast has a less extensive worldwide channels business, but does have wide pay TV distribution in many territories and runs a production business out of the UK.
Sony, which is said to have made an informal approach, would find itself under similar scrutiny should it secure an agreement.
Verizon, which has minimal notable entertainment assets besides its stake in AwesomenessTV, would not face the same regulatory scrutiny, though the size of the business a takeover would create may alert anti-monopoly watchdogs.
Fox co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch has this week played down the idea Fox is a takeover target, saying the company has the “scale” to compete in an entertainment and media market that is set to be dominated by the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google.
“Sub-scale players are finding it difficult to leverage their position onto new and emerging video platforms,” Murdoch told shareholders this week. “Let me be very clear: we are not in that category. We have the required scale to continue to both execute on our aggressive growth strategy and deliver significant increased returns to shareholders.”
However, its share price has spiked around 9% following word of Comcast’s interest, suggesting there may be a deal on the table at the right price.
Fox’s market cap is currently around US$54 billion.