The MSO is selling its NBCU unit’s 15% stake in A&E Television Networks for $2.8 billion, The NY Post has learned. That’s 40% more than the value Comcast claimed for the collection of cable nets in a regulatory filing on 5/2. Then, Comcast said AETN, which includes the History Channel, Lifetime and A&E, was worth $2.02 billion. But that was before the History Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys” drew an average of 14 million viewers during its May 28-30 airing.
That may have helped boost the value of AETN. Currently, History Channel and A&E are two top-five cable networks in the coveted 25-54 demo.
AETN owners Disney-ABC and Hearst, which each own a 42.5% stake, are buying Comcast’s stake and splitting it equally.
Comcast was expected to close the sale at the end of Q2, but negotiations are continuing. While a price has been agreed to, other details are still being hammered out, a source told The Post.
The outstanding issues most likely relate to talks between Hearst and Comcast over retransmission fees (Hearst owns NBC-affiliated stations).
Comcast was selling the asset because it needed cash, one source said.
Separately, Comcast is also reportedly looking to buy out Microsoft’s 50% stake in the co-owned website, MSNBC.com.
The deal gives A&E Television Networks a valuation in the $20 billion range, just $10 billion less than NBCU’s total worth at the time of Comcast’s deal to buy it in 2010.