×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Steve Burke on Comcast’s Surprise Sky Bid, Fox-Disney Deal

Comcast’s flirtation with buying 21st Century Fox helped inspire the media conglomerate’s surprise bid for Sky, Steve Burke told a Wall Street-heavy crowd on Wednesday.

Burke, who serves as executive VP of Comcast and president and CEO of NBCUniversal, acknowledged that the company had been in the hunt for the bulk of Fox’s film and television assets before ultimately losing out to Disney.

“They chose to go a different direction and we said win some, lose some,” Burke said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. However, the aspects of Rupert Murdoch’s business that attracted Comcast to Fox continued to drive the itch to acquire.

“We have a lower percentage of our revenue from international than I wish we did,” Burke said.

Fox, Burke argued, had done a good job of building up its overseas operations — a portfolio that includes a 39% stake in Sky, a European pay-TV giant. Fox has been trying to buy Sky outright, but its proposed acquisition has been bogged down in a lengthy regulatory review by British authorities. Comcast’s £22 billion ($31 billion) offer for Sky, represents a 16% premium on the existing bid by Fox. Burke said the potential to grow Sky’s business mirrored what Comcast did with NBCUniversal after buying the film and television company in 2011.

“The more that we thought about Sky, the more we realized that it was so similar to what we built with NBCUniversal,” said Burke, who praised Sky’s foreign reach and set top box technology. With Sky in its quiver, international operations would account for 25% of Comcast’s revenues, up from less than 10%.

“We know a lot about the company and we’ve been following the company for a long, long time,” he said.

Burke’s remarks come amidst consolidation in the media space. Disney is buying most of Fox, AT&T is trying to purchase Time Warner, and there are murmurs that CBS and Viacom will soon join forces. Burke argued that Comcast, which distributes programming as a cable operator and creates content as the owner of a film and television studio, is well positioned in an age of ever expanding conglomerates. He also maintained that Comcast’s Universal Studios’ theme parks and consumer products divisions are a competitive advantages.

“We have as good a hand as anybody,” Burke said.

The NBCUniversal chief’s enthusiasm for the business was bolstered by his network’s recent success with the Super Bowl. Thanks to robust ad sales, the Philadelphia Eagles’ surprise victory over the New England Patriots turned out to be a major coup for NBC. Burke said the company generated $100 million in profit from the big game.

“We think it might have been the most profitable night of television in history,” said Burke.

More Film

  • Critics Week

    Cannes Critics’ Week Unveils Its Lineup

    Lorcan Finnegan’s science-fiction thriller “Vivarium” with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, Jérémy Clapin’s fantasy-filled animated feature “I Lost My Body,” and Hlynur Pálmason’s Icelandic drama “A White, White Day” are among the 11 films set to compete at Critics’ Week, the section dedicated to first and second films that runs parallel with the Cannes Film [...]

  • China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails

    China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails to Impress While 'P Storm' Rages On

    Even on one of the quietest weekends of the year, new U.S. animated release “Wonder Park” failed to inspire Chinese audiences as much as Hong Kong and Indian movies already in their third weekend in theaters. Starring the voice talents of Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, and Ken Jeong, among many others, the film [...]

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content