So even though both companies want Fox’s assets for different reasons, and are willing to divest similar unwanted parts like regional sports networks, both companies are now fighting for the whole bundle of assets, including cable stations FX and Nat Geo and Endemol Shine Group.
There are personal relationships at play here, too. Don’t forget that Comcast tried to buy Disney in 2004, and the Disney board wouldn’t talk to Roberts about his $54 billion offer. And the CEO of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, Steve Burke, worked for Disney from 1986 to 1998, including a tenure directly with Iger after Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC.
The two companies have very similar market valuations, with Comcast at around $148 billion and Disney at $158 billion. Whichever company succeeds at buying Fox will become the dominant force in media.
Disney is actively considering its options, including an increased cash-stock offer, according to a person familiar with the matter. Given the stakes and the personalities involved, don’t expect either company to back down without a fight.
A Comcast spokeswoman declined to comment. A Disney spokeswoman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the difference between Comcast and Disney’s bid because it didn’t properly account for the change in Disney’s share price on Friday.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.