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Bidding War? Comcast Offers $65 Billion For 21st Century Fox

PHILADELPHIA (CNET) — Could we see a bidding war for 21st Century Fox?

Comcast, the nation's largest cable television provider, on Wednesday offered $65 billion to buy 21st Century Fox's film and TV studios, a bid that comes on top of an existing $52.4 billion, all-stock offer by Disney. Fox is home to marquee franchises like "X-Men," "Deadpool," "Kingsmen," "Planet of the Apes" and animated films like "Ice Age" and "Boss Baby."

The deal comes barely a day after a federal judge ruled that telecom giant AT&T could buy Time Warner, which signaled to the media, tech and telecom world that any wheeling and dealing would be fair game. It's the first of what's expected to be a potential onslaught of deals as traditional entertainment powerhouses and internet service providers wrestle with growing competition from the likes of Google, Facebook and Netflix.

The offer, which comes unsolicited, makes good on Comcast's promise to make a bid for Fox once the uncertainty over AT&T and Time Warner cleared up. Fox would join a stable of in-house entertainment that include properties run by NBC Universal. (Think "The Fast the Furious" franchise.)

Like Disney and Fox, Comcast is part owner of the streaming-TV service Hulu. A Comcast-Fox tie-up would double Comcast's stake in Hulu to 60 percent, putting a question mark over the future of one of the main streaming video services in the US.

The deal also threatens a grand Marvel reunion. Disney, which owns the films rights to the "Avengers," could unify the comic-book universe by bringing in-house Fox's rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Comcast snagging Fox away would give Universal a well-known comic-book franchise at a time when they're all the rage in the theaters. Universal owns the rights to the Incredible Hulk, but has worked with Disney to get the character in Marvel-produced films.

A Fox spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.


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