20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Marketing Executive James Finn Exiting

James Finn, co-head of marketing at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, is exiting the studio after nearly 20 years.

Fox, which was acquired by The Walt Disney Co. for $71.3 billion, has been streamlining staff, including executives, as a result of the March 2019 merger. So far there have been three rounds of layoffs; departing executives in the first round, which happened immediately following the closure of the acquisition, included Mike Dunn, the longtime home entertainment president.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Finn had been let go or chose to depart on his own. Finn was known for his strong relationships with the media, innovative approach to marketing and passion for all things high-tech, particularly in the areas of virtual reality and augmented reality.

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In a parting e-mail sent to colleagues and the media obtained by Media Play News, Finn wrote, “For nearly 20 years I’ve called Fox my home, and I’ve read many of these ‘peace out’ emails. While some have been inspiring, sweet, funny and kind, nearly all of them have been too long. So I’ll try to break that trend. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in every step of the way. Thank you to my colleagues, my mentors, my family, my friends and my team for making it so much fun.”

Finn, known for his sense of humor, in a postscript quipped, “I intended to keep it shorter but I had already hit the send button before I could edit it down.”

Last year, Finn was selected as one of Media Play News‘ digital drivers. “Finn works across two distinct business units at 20th Century Fox,” the article noted. “As co-head of marketing for home entertainment, he leads marketing communications strategies in the rapidly developing digital and disc transactional businesses. As the head of marketing for FoxNext, he oversees marketing across interactive and immersive experiences and games.”

Finn began his 20th Century Fox career in Oct. 2000 as a publicist in New York, where according to his LinkedIn profile he “leveraged expansive media relations to secure widespread press coverage for noteworthy films, including Cast Away, Moulin Rouge, Ice Age, Minority Report, X2, The Day After Tomorrow, I, Robot, and Master and Commander.”

In June 2003, he was named VP, national publicity, for Fox Searchlight Pictures, and in August 2009 he moved west to California to succeed Steve Feldstein as SVP, corporate and marketing communications, at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In April 2013 he was promoted to EVP and co-head of marketing for both 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and the Fox Innovation Lab.

Finn assumed additional duties, as EVP and head of marketing at FoxNext, in May 2017.

Prior to 20th Century Fox, he worked at Miramax and NBC News, both in New York.

Finn holds a bachelor of business administration degree from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.

Comcast Offers $65 Billion for Fox

Comcast Corp. has submitted a $65 billion cash bid for 21st Century Fox film and television assets,  a day after a federal judge dismissed competitive concerns and ruled that AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner may proceed.

Comcast’s bid is significantly higher than Walt Disney Co.’s $52.4 billion offer. However, a key difference between the offers is that Disney’s involved a stock swap that would give the Fox shareholders about a 25% stake in Disney going forward. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox, reportedly favored the stock transaction over Comcast’s one-time buyout offer because it limits tax liabilities in the short term, in addition to the potential for future earnings on the stock.

In a letter to the Fox board, Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said, “We are also highly confident that our proposed transaction will obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner and that our transaction is as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction.”

Comcast already owns NBC Universal. The telecom last month said it planned to make an all-cash offer for the Fox studio and networks, but would wait until a court ruling on the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

Philadelphia-based Comcast also said it would pay Disney the $1.525 billion  fee owed in the event of its Fox deal falling through.

Fox shareholders are slated to vote July 10 on the Disney merger, but Comcast said it wants a deal before that.

Fox assets that are on the table include the 20th Century Fox movie and TV studios, as well as the FX and National Geographic channels; Fox’s 22 regional sports networks; its interests in U.K. satellite TV and Internet provider Sky; and a one-third stake in Hulu, which is currently owned by Comcast, Disney and Fox, each with a 30% interest.

A Disney acquisition of Fox would also return the movie and distribution rights to films based on properties Disney now owns, such as Marvel Comics’ X-Men and Fantastic Four, paving the way for their inclusion in Disney’s lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fox also owns the perpetual distribution rights to the original Star Wars. In addition, Disney recently expanded its Florida-based Animal Kingdom theme park to include a themed-area based on James Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise, which is Fox IP.

Industry observers expect Disney to make a counter-offer for the Fox assets, which could involve an updated bid that includes a mix of stock and cash.

In Digital Age, Comcast is Swinging for the M&A Fence

NEWS ANALYSIS — Comcast still has that Disney itch.

The media giant reportedly is securing upwards of $60 billion in cash financing in an effort to outbid The Walt Disney Co.’s current $52 billion stock offer for 2oth Century Fox Film Corp., which includes movies, TV shows and foreign assets.

The merger & acquisition bid would only be submitted should AT&T’s $84.5 billion acquisition of Time Warner be approved by a federal judge, according to Reuterswhich cited sources familiar with the proceedings. That deal is being opposed in court by the Department of Justice on alleged antitrust issues.

Comcast previously submitted a $30 billion offer for Fox-controlled Sky Plc in the United Kingdom — a bid that trumps Fox’s separate offer for remaining interest in the satellite TV operator, whose business includes operations in Italy and Germany.

Comcast’s legacy cable business is under increasing threat (lost 96,000 video subs in Q1) from over-the-top video behemoths Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, whose global platforms continue to migrate millions of consumers from traditional pay-TV to streaming video.

One way to mitigate the damage is through maximizing economies of scale in content creation and distribution. Comcast assets include NBC Universal, which includes Universal Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation, among many others.

Fox, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch & his sons, controls the rights to franchises such as “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four,” “Deadpool” and “Avatar,” in addition to “The Simpsons” on TV.

In addition, Comcast, Fox and Disney each own 30% stakes in Hulu (Time Warner owns 10%). Should Comcast prevail acquiring Fox, it would have controlling interest in Hulu, which just topped 20 million subscribers.

Fox subsidiaries are major content suppliers to Hulu, although the platform’s breakout hit, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is produced by MGM. With Disney eyeing its own branded SVOD service in 2019, controlling interest in Hulu and Hulu Live online TV platform is a pre-requisite.

“We believe this is simply not possible without Comcast’s consent and we see no reason why Comcast would want to enable Disney to have a more successful streaming service that hampers the legacy bundle that is vital to Comcast,” BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield wrote in a note last year.

Indeed, Comcast’s rivalry with Disney dates back to 2004 when it made a hostile $54 billion bid for Disney after then-CEO Michael Eisner refused to entertain merger discussions. Comcast later withdrew the offer.