Critics pointed out that the deal wouldn't be the end of such massive mergers, and may in fact open the doors to similar acquisitions among other companies. Instead, a rush to consolidate is likely.
Fox shares gained 1.4 percent in after-hours trading, to $44.28. The sources claim that Comcast is preparing an all-cash bid for Fox's assets, one that will allegedly be officially revealed some time tomorrow. It also said, "21st Century Fox has not yet made a determination, in light of Comcast's proposal, as to whether it will postpone or adjourn" its July 10 stockholder meeting to discuss the Disney acquisition.
Shares of both T-Mobile and Sprint rose; their proposed combination is pending.
The cable provider originally held back on bidding for Fox's production assets until a federal judge on Tuesday approved AT&T's so-called vertical merger with Time Warner. Leon said the government had "taken its best shot" to oppose the merger. "I hope the government has the wisdom and courage" not to seek a stay, he said.
That transaction, described by the two companies as a merger, was set to give Fox shareholders a roughly 25% stake in Disney.More news: Mercedes recalls cars over emission "shutdown devices"
The Time Warner deal is a crucial achievement for Stephenson, who views AT&T as competing with Google, Facebook, Netflix and other Silicon Valley giants. According to regulatory filings, an unnamed company, widely thought to be Comcast, previously made an offer for Fox. Even if a company doesn't need to get bigger right away, it might need to do so to prevent a competitor from overshadowing it.
Fox's board had rejected a bid from Comcast past year in part due to concerns over regulatory approval. Those internet players started out as "over the top" video distributors that deliver content to your home TV on broadband pipes provided by ISPs like AT&T and Comcast. AT&T's favorable ruling would seem to clear any regulatory hesitation.
The AT&T and Time Warner merger has officially been approved.
But Leon rejected all of the government's arguments in a stunning rebuttal to the justice department.
AT&T will also add HBO subscribers, Warner Brother's film studio and Turner channels. Disney and Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In any case, arguably the biggest victor of Tuesday's court case was a man who was not directly involved.
Most analysts had expected that District Judge Richard Leon would rule in favor of the companies and strike down a Justice Department's lawsuit to block the deal, which may have muted some of the immediate reaction.