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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

1 hour ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.