Activision Blizzard may already have another suitor in the event that its sale to Microsoft falls through, with some analysts believing Comcast would be open to acquiring the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft maker. This bit of industry speculation arrives shortly after Microsoft appealed the UK's rejection of its Activision Blizzard acquisition in an effort to save the $69 billion deal.
Comcast's last big purchase happened in 2018, when the Philadelphia-based conglomerate acquired British broadcaster Sky to the tune of $39 billion. Being by far the largest stateside cable provider, Comcast is nowadays unable to acquire any more direct rivals due to antitrust regulations. But the company currently seems keen on exploring blockbuster deals in other industries, largely motivated by its plummeting stock price that lost one-third of its value since its 2021 peak. This ambition has been evident for a while now, as underlined by the reports that Comcast-owned NBCUniversal was exploring a merger with EA back in mid-2022.
And while that particular deal failed to materialize, the notion of Comcast acquiring Activision Blizzard if Microsoft fails to do so isn't out of the realm of possibility, according to some industry watchers. Bank of America analyst Jessica Reif Ehrlich labeled EA talks as an indicator that "anything could happen," as reported by TheMiddleMarket. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan agrees with that sentiment, having recently highlighted media content as the clear "missing piece" in Comcast's current business model, stating that the cable giant is likely already exploring deals in the gaming space.
Industry watchers are also pointing to the likes of Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive and Nintendo as other potential gaming partners for Comcast. Outright acquisitions wouldn't be the only way for the telecom giant to diversify into video games, as the company might also be open to long-term content deals. Apart from licensing existing and future releases, Comcast could also commission exclusive games in a move reminiscent of the Netflix-Ubisoft partnership announced in September 2022.
As for Activision Blizzard, there's little doubt that the company will land on its feet in the event its sale to Microsoft falls through, irrespective of any additional suitors lining up. Besides the fact that it boasts healthy financials, the Call of Duty maker would also be entitled to a $3 billion breakup fee should Microsoft abandon its acquisition offer due to regulatory pushback. For context, this figure is close to Activision Blizzard's most successful year on record, which was 2021, when the company's income reached $3.16 billion.
And though Microsoft has technically been free to close the Activision Blizzard deal since May 22, attempting to do so already would at the very least force it to forfeit its cloud gaming business in the UK. Should its recently filed appeal be successful, the British CMA will be asked to once again review the acquisition proposal later this year.