Comcast and Disney are set to control nearly half of all programming spending in the United States.
As media markets reach a consolidation fever pitch, three companies will emerge controlling nearly all content creation and distribution.
Starting from the production and programing stages through content delivery via phone, television and internet access, more power will be held in fewer hands.
Disney, once the company completes its takeover of Fox, and Comcast will control 40% of all original and licensed programming spending in the United States.
Regulators prevented Disney from also acquiring Sky from Fox, the British broadcaster, therefore Comcast will instead purchase Sky under the revised deal. Any restrictions at this point are largely perfunctory in a war lost long ago.
In the early 1980’s around 50 companies owned media enterprises in the United States. By 2011, this number fell or increased, depending on your view, to only 6; today there are even fewer.
After Disney’s deal for Fox closes and Comcast acquires Sky, both companies will control 20% of worldwide programming spending.
According to research by London-based Ampere Analysis, Disney and Comcast will spend over $40 billion on programming by the end of 2018, roughly half from Disney / Fox and the other half from NBCUniversal / Sky.
Similar to the vertical integration forthcoming when AT&T completes its buyout of Time Warner and already in place at Comcast / NBCUniversal, Sky is integrated across much of industry from production through selling phone, television and Internet access to over 23 million subscribers in Europe.
Soon most of the media in the United States will be produced and distributed by a triumvirate of companies – Comcast, Disney and Warner.
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One of the looming questions after the dusk settles is how restrictive these new content empires will be with licensing their programs to other service providers.
Furthermore, how will these changes influence programming more broadly if Disney and WarnerMedia decided to make their content exclusive to their own direct-to-consumer streaming services?