Comcast failed to acquire Disney for $54 billion in 2004. Now it’s looking to become Disney’s biggest rival with a deal valued at a fraction of that price. According to reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Hollywood Reporter, America’s biggest cable operator is looking to expand a programming and production portfolio that includes Universal Pictures by acquiring DreamWorks Animation for a reported $3.3 billion.
The merger would combine DreamWorks with Comcast’s Illumination Entertainment animation arm — part of its NBCUniversal unit that operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts.
As WSJ puts it, the merger of Comcast and DreamWorks “would make the cable giant a rival to Walt Disney in the lucrative family-entertainment business.” According to WSJ‘s source, the merger plan would see “DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment, Universal’s animation studio, would remain separate brands.”
DreamWorks — which counts Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar among its hits and has 19 animated TV shows in production — was founded in 1997 by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who would reportedly join Comcast to head up its new animation division. Comcast’s Universal Pictures, in contrast, has been a smaller player in animation, and counts Despicable Me and Minions as its biggest hits.
The merger would save DreamWorks, which has been shopping for a buyer, while helping Comcast, which reports earnings on Wednesday, achieve its goal of bringing “together the best in media and technology … and the world’s best entertainment and online experiences.”