Another advantage Fox has is that no other bidders look poised to jump into the fray. Certainly, the likes of CNBC parent Comcast, AT&T and Verizon may all be interested in high-quality content like Time Warner's—but not right now.
Comcast is still digesting NBCUniversal and hasn't gotten antitrust approval for its purchase of Time Warner Cable yet. Similarly, AT&T is awaiting the green light to buy DirecTV and Verizon recently levered up to buy Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless for a whopping $130 billion. Comcast, AT&T and Verizon all declined to comment.
The same probably goes for new media companies like Google. While the Internet giant has dabbled in video content on its YouTube site, the company has largely avoided taking significant equity stakes and preferred to encourage users to create their own material. Spending upward of $100 billion on Time Warner looks like an unlikely move. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said last week that he hadn't spoken to Google and the Internet company didn't respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
One other possibility is that Time Warner buys another company and becomes too large for Fox to gobble up. People familiar with the matter say Time Warner has considered buying leading U.S. Spanish language channel Univision, which would add considerable size.
But it's unclear Univision would be sold for a price that makes sense to Time Warner. Univision also has a content sharing deal that would force Time Warner to give up a chunk of Univision's revenue in exchange for material owned by Mexican media conglomerate Grupo Televisa. Given Televisa's likely reluctance to sell its 37 percent stake or give up that content deal, Time Warner probably won't get too excited about such a deal. Time Warner and Univision declined to comment.
Indeed, while Bewkes doesn't look eager to sell out to Fox, he's also unlikely to make a bad investment simply to avoid it. More likely, Murdoch will make an offer that's too good to refuse.