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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Comcast announced Thursday that it does not intend to further pursue the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox's entertainment assets — choosing instead to focus on beating Fox to acquire Sky Broadcasting in Europe.

Why it matters: Comcast has been batting Disney in a fierce bidding war over Fox's entertainment assets, like its movie studio and cable channels National Geographic and FX, for months. In withdrawing from the battle, it nearly guarantees that Disney will acquire most of Fox, barring any regulatory concerns.

 “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company."
— Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation

Be smart: The news is not that surprising, given that Comcast has been waiting to outbid Disney's second bid for the properties for $71.5 billion. Still, many expected Comcast to push further.

  • A WSJ report a few weeks ago stated that Comcast was talking to financiers to potentially help back another bid.
  • Another report suggested that Comcast was lining up bidders to purchase Fox's regional sports networks, in an effort to ease investor concerns over regulatory approvals.

The bottom line: In dropping its bid for Fox in the U.S., Comcast can focus its efforts on gaining access to nearly 23 million households across five European countries with a winning Sky bid.

  • Sky is also compelling to Comcast because it has a robust over-the-top streaming business — which would help its new majority owner build a streaming audience overseas.

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker