The Federal Communications Commission effectively killed the deal this week when staffers at the agency recommended that the merger be designated for a "hearing" — a procedural move that would have led to years of fruitless legal wrangling, analysts said.
"Once you have even the implication of [a hearing], you have no choice but to walk away," said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Comcast's decision Friday was in the best interest of consumers, who now benefit from numerous streaming video apps that would have been threatened by a larger Comcast.
"The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers," said Wheeler in a statement.
Officials at the Justice Department also raised concerns this week about Comcast's ability to inflict harm on other industries, signaling a shift in thinking by that agency on antitrust issues, according to some analysts.