You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts: Sky Is a Great Opportunity but Not a ‘Necessity’

Comcast wasn’t strategically compelled to go forward with its $31 billion bid for the U.K.’s Sky — but the satellite operator has shown impressive results and is a unique opportunity for international growth, Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts said.

“Looking at the future, I don’t think we have to do this,” Roberts said about the Sky bid, speaking on the cable and media giant’s first-quarter 2018 earnings call Wednesday. “Sky is a unique asset… and is aligned with our strategy of integrating programming and distribution.”

On Wednesday, Comcast announced a formal, binding $31 billion cash offer for Sky, as it looks to outflank Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for the U.K. satellite operator.

Comcast positions Sky as complementary to its U.S. core business, although execs said the scale of the two companies would let a combined Comcast/Sky invest more in original and acquired programming. In addition, there may be opportunities to deliver NBC programming on Sky platforms, as well as Sky content distributed on Comcast, execs said.

Sky has 23 million retail customers in the U.K., Italy, and Germany. “Sky will be our platform for growth across Europe,” Roberts said in announcing the formal bid.

With the higher Comcast offer, Sky said Wednesday that it would terminate its previous agreement with 21st Century Fox; Fox said it was committed to the Sky deal and is “currently considering its options.” Comcast’s proposal is now pending regulatory approval.

Roberts compared the Sky bid to Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. “We didn’t have to do that,” the chief exec said, but NBCU has proven to be a valuable engine for Comcast’s growth since the deal closed in 2011.

According to Comcast, it expects to achieve $500 million in synergies through a deal for Sky. Of that, $300 million is on the expense side and $200 million is in anticipated revenue upside, CFO Mike Cavanagh said on the earnings call. Comcast expects “only limited impact on headcount” with the Sky purchase; i.e., it’s not expecting major layoffs.

In seeking to gain U.K. approval for the Sky deal, Comcast made several pledges to preserve the independence of Sky’s news operations. That includes commitments to: maintain Sky News’ annual spending for 10 years (at levels not less than what Sky spent in 2017); keep Sky’s U.K. headquarters in Osterley for at least five years; and not acquire majority interest in U.K. newspapers for five years.

For Q1, Comcast beat Wall Street estimates with overall revenue up 10% to $22.8 billion and net income of $3.1 billion, an increase of 21.2%, thanks to ad gains from the Winter Olympic Games and Super Bowl LII.

More Biz

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Colin Kaepernick Kneel

    Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Settlement With NFL

    Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two football players who alleged the National Football League colluded to oust them from the game after they started kneeling in protest of racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem, have reached a settlement in the matter, according to a statement from the sports organization and lawyers representing [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Could Be in ‘Big Trouble’ Over Alleged New Sex Tape, Attorney Says

    Strong allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly for 25 years, but the singer has always managed to slip free. Yet reports that a videotape of him sexually assaulting an underage girl, combined with the outcry surrounding the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” means that public sentiment, at the very least, is definitely not [...]

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    New Media Residuals and Feature Films Contribute to Spike in Writers' Pay

    The outlook for members of the Writers Guild of America has brightened — even amid pervasive uncertainty in the entertainment industry. According to the most recent report to WGA West members, earnings surged 2.8% to $1.41 billion in 2017, thanks mostly to gains in feature films and new-media residuals. Total covered earnings for WGA West [...]

  • Joe Dante Gremlins

    Hollywood Execs Seek Licensing Deals at the New York Toy Fair

    On Feb. 16 more than 30,000 studio executives, buyers and toy company reps will gather in Manhattan for the annual Toy Fair New York, all vying for market share and trying to snag the latest hot trend in a fast-changing industry. Those working the film side of the business will focus much of their attention [...]

  • Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper A Star

    Universal Music Group Fuels 11.3% Rise in Vivendi's 2018 Revenues

    Vivendi’s revenues were up 11.3% to €13.93 billion ($15.7 billion) in 2018, powered by Universal Music Group, which delivered such hits as the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack and Drake’s new album. UMG’s revenues climbed by 10% to €6 billion ($6.8 billion) compared to 2017. On top of the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content