Buyers in Favor Of Comcast Deal

Media buyers said last week they are upbeat about the prospect of Comcast acquiring the Walt Disney Co. and running ABC and its sibling cable networks.

“It would be Viacom Plus on steroids,” said MindShare’s Marc Goldstein, following the broadcast and cable TV company’s surprise $54 billion bid for Disney. Added the president and CEO of the WPP media shop, “The ability to build marketing programs across several platforms would be attractive.”

Some buyers believe the new leadership at Comcast—especially cable operations president Steve Burke, who had a successful stint at ABC before leaving in 1998—could add a much-needed infusion of ideas to Disney’s floundering TV operation. “Comcast is an extremely aggressive and successfully run company,” said one media buyer. “The leadership sets the company culture. This can influence the networks’ sales approach, and their mandates can make it easier for us to work with them.”

Several buyers said Comcast could use Disney’s film archives to drive video-on-demand services, then use that revenue to boost TV program development. They also said ABC shows could benefit from promotion on Comcast’s cable systems, and suggested marketing packages could encompass Disney-owned outlets and Comcast systems.

Bill Koenigsberg, president and CEO of independent Horizon Media, noted the deal also could give Disney’s cable networks better positioning on Comcast systems.

A merged Comcast-Disney would give Procter & Gamble access to “the real sweet spot” in consumer touch points, said global marketing officer Jim Stengel. “We would have a lot to gain by working with them,” he said.

Media buyers claimed the new company’s clout would not trouble them. “That’s why we were created: to level the playing field,” said one buyer.