Disney to buy part of 21st Century Fox for $52 billion
Disney gets FX Networks, X-Men, Deadpool, and a majority stake in Hulu.
Disney did not acquire all of 21st Century Fox—the deal focuses on the company’s entertainment businesses. 21st Century Fox announced plans to spin off its news and sports broadcasting businesses into a new company dubbed “Fox.” This company will focus on news and sports and will include Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, among other properties.
If the deal gains regulatory approval, Disney’s already gigantic pool of content will expand even further. The company will own cable channels including National Geographic, FX Networks, Fox Sports Regional Networks, and international networks like Star TV and Sky. 21st Century Fox is expected to complete its acquisition of Sky, a popular network in the UK and Europe, by mid-2018. If and when it does so, Disney will own all of Sky.
This also has implications for the Marvel comic book universe. 21st Century Fox retained some character rights even after Disney bought Marvel in 2009, but this deal would bring all those rights, including those to X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool, back to Disney. Crossovers between worlds are also possible, and may be likely, as Disney notes in its press release that the deal will let the company “create richer, more complex worlds of interrelated characters and stories that audiences have shown they love.”
Disney’s content grab is about more than just building complex worlds and new stories. The company is slated to debut its own streaming service in 2019 and this deal provides Disney with even more content to bolster it with. That streaming service will directly compete with Netflix, a company that has been focusing more on creating original content rather than acquiring existing titles. Netflix pledged to spend $7 billion to $8 billion in 2018 on original content with the hopes that it can continue to make hit series like Stranger Things and The Crown.
2019 may be far in the future, but Disney is already making moves to separate itself and its content from existing services. The company already pulled major titles including Star Wars from Netflix, and it’s likely that other Disney content will eventually disappear from Netflix and other services well before its own streaming service debuts.
Another interesting result of the Disney-21st Century Fox deal is that Disney will have a majority stake in Hulu if the deal is approved. Disney already owned 30 percent of the streaming service while 21st Century Fox owned another 30 percent. It’s unclear how Disney will treat Hulu in the future, particularly after the launch of its forthcoming streaming service.
But the deal still has to pass regulatory approval before any of this content shuffling can take place. While Comcast was approved to purchase NBCUniversal in 2011, the Trump administration has sought to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner. It could be over a year before we know if Disney and 21st Century Fox can close the deal.