The Walt Disney Company has acquired 21st Century Fox for $53.4 billion. The deal includes the acquisition of many of Fox network resources including: Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studios; a large proportion of its cable networks; and international assets such as India’s Star network and Europe’s Sky.
The acquisition also means Disney will assume Fox’s 30% stake in the American subscription video-on-demand service Hulu, taking its total ownership to 60%, with the remainder shared between Comcast/NBCUniversal and Time Warner. Earlier this year Disney announced plans to pull a number of its branded titles from the Netflix catalogue, and the purchase of Fox will result in Mickey and Co providing even more quality content to Hulu. As such, the play from Disney is likely to drive audiences to Netflix’s largest competitor – turning consumers heads away from Stranger Things and towards Lion Kings.
The deal is also seen as a touchdown for Walt Disney in the sporting world as Fox’s regional sports networks will combine with Disney’s ESPN. The new Fox will keep ESPN competitors Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 as well as the Big Ten Network, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and the Fox broadcast network. With tech giants Amazon and Facebook still keen on entering the bidding war for
Premier League streaming rights, Disney may also be attracted, even though ESPN was unsuccessful in its attempt at broadcasting top-flight football in the UK.
The purchase of Twentieth Century Fox movie and television studios will once again provide more inventory to the Disney portfolio. Fox’s TV studio produces several of television’s biggest hits for a variety of cable and broadcast networks, including This is US, Modern Family and Empire on Fox; cable sister channel FX meanwhile is a awards regular and critic favourite with shows like The Americans, Legion and American Horror Story.
Followers of the comic-book-turned-cult-cinema genre will be the first to sign up to the content streaming platform as the deal will join the Marvel Universe with X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, allowing yet more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories – cue a very green
rom-com between Gamora and The Hulk.
From a content perspective, the business goals are clear.
In its report on the merger, weekly American entertainment trade magazine Variety stated that “Disney expects to realize $2bn in cost savings from combining Disney and Fox’s overlapping businesses within two years of the
The acquisition signals Disney’s intent to become one of the major broadcasters, including in streaming services, live sport and the creation of new television and movie content; Disney could have a stranglehold on the market if executed well.