More Media Mergers Made in 2017: PwC

Total value of deals declined, new report finds
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Merger and acquisition activity in the U.S. media and telecommunications industry picked up in 2017, though the value of those deals was lower than in 2016, according to a report by PwC.

Last year saw 876 deals announced, up 29% from the year before. Those deals were worth $138.8 billion, down 31%.

Related: Viacom Shares Dip 7% as Deal Fervor Fizzles

Most of the value of those deals was wrapped up in a handful of what PwC terms megadeals, worth $5 billion or more.

Those transactions were the The Walt Disney Co.’s proposal to acquire TV and studio assets from 21st Century Fox, worth $68.4 billion; Discovery Communications' bid to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive, worth $11.8 billion; and Crown Castle International Corp.’s acquisition of Lightower Fiber Networks, worth $7.1 billion.

PwC said another 15 deals in 2017 were valued between $1 billion and $5 billion.

Related: Comcast's Roberts Downplays M&A Desires

The deals come amid big changes in the media business.

“The traditional media players are refocusing their strategy as they consider what their position will be in the ecosystem and whether they will be part of the next big deal, while non-traditional media players are honing in on the next big value play as they look to have a stake in the new future of [media,]” PwC said in its report.

Bart Spiegel, U.S. media & telecommunications deals partner at PwC, said: “Given the robust deal market in 2017, we expect 2018 to be another banner year as companies look to expand on their capabilities and portfolio. Many of the deal theses underpinning 2017 M&A will continue into 2018.”

Related: The Five Biggest Deals of 2017

In its report, PwC identified trends that will drive deal making and shape the media and telecom landscape. They include the rise of artificial intelligence; the importance of creating authentic user experiences; headline-making mega deals as companies seek scale, access to content, technology and operating efficiencies; growth of internet video, internet ads and gaming; and network upgrades by telecom companies

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