The Walt Disney Company announced its plan to acquire 21st Century Fox, Inc. in massive Disney Fox merger.
— Disney (@Disney) December 14, 2017
A big change is happening in media as Disney, a company that is already listed on the Fortune 500 List, is all but finished acquiring 21st Century Fox. This mega-merger means a reunited Marvel family, rich storytelling platforms, direct connections with a global audience, and the retention of a leader.
21st Century Fox’s Film Production
Disney will acquire the following blockbuster movies franchises:
- Fantastic Four
The acquisition will reunite the Fox-owned Marvel franchises Deadpool, X-Men, and Fantastic Four with the rest of the Disney-owned Marvel family. On August 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company announced a deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion. The subsequent creation of Marvel Studios, second in success to its Lucasfilm acquisition, which went for $4 billion in 2012, has been the driving force for the studio. A larger Marvel ecosystem would me more opportunities to see favorite characters interact with each other in the same movie.
Immediate classic, Avatar, already has a presence at the Walt Disney World Resort and will surely be a franchise that Disney helps build.
Twentieth Century Fox TV Series
Disney will acquire the following TV Series, amongst many others:
- The Simpsons
- The Americans
- This Is Us
- Modern Family
Disney has an extensive collection of TV shows but they are most suited for a younger audience. With the Disney Fox merger, the Disney brand will have a more diversified TV show portfolio with programs that are designed for various age demographics. Collaborative efforts will be bolstered as talent from decentralized studios converge under one roof.
Disney will acquire the following networks:
- FX Networks
- National Geographic Partners
- Fox Sports Regional Networks
- Fox Networks Group International
- Star India
The Disney Fox merger will bring together a collection of networks with different missions. FX Networks has the brand moniker of “fearless” and its content is guided by this concept like a north star. Headed in a very different direction is National Geographic, with a team looking to preserve the global environment while inspiring the youth through nature education.
Having multiple networks with contrasting goals helps diversify the Disney portfolio while delivering a rich entertainment experience for the consumer. These networks offer Disney a deeper storytelling acumen.
Disney’s Worldwide Offerings
Disney will acquire the following interests:
- Sky plc
- Tata Sky
- Endemol Shine Group
The acquisition extends Disney’s international reach with these trusted direct to consumer platforms. The branded content of these global networks has gained the trust of the respective territories, allowing Disney to deliver their content to an attentive audience.
Now that the Hulu brand is under the Disney umbrella, will Hulu have priority streaming rights to Disney content? Disney’s split from video streaming service, Netflix, was said to be the first step in Disney’s move toward its own streaming service. Could Hulu be the newest home for Disney content? The Disney Fox merger provides options: they own BAMTech as well.
A caveat to the Disney Fox merger was the retention of current Disney CEO, Robert A. Iger throughout the integration process. Iger’s business experience and wealth of intimate Disney knowledge made him indispensable in the Fox acquisition process.
“When considering this strategic acquisition, it was important to the Board that Bob remain as Chairman and CEO through 2021 to provide the vision and proven leadership required to successfully complete and integrate such a massive, complex undertaking,” said Orin C. Smith, Lead Independent Director of the Disney Board.
Iger was happy to share some of his thought about the Disney Fox merger. “[W]e’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings.”
The Future of the Entertainment Business
In many ways, Disney took a large step towards becoming an entertainment monopoly, although labeling it as a more condensed oligopoly is more fitting. Disney is a far cry from being slapped with antitrust allegations but its competition now has something to think about. Big players like Viacom and CBS have a new landscape to navigate when two of its direct competitors join forces. What does this mean for the future of film? With so many titles under one roof, will we see more character-cross-pollination? Many see the move as good for entertainment; putting Deadpool in any movie for comic relief would be delightful. Conversely, some feel it will muddy the waters as character identities are consolidated on the big screen and cause less intimate character development. Barry Hertz, Editor at The Globe and Mail seems to think so as “[t]he culture will shrink to one studio’s footprint.”
Either way, this giant merger is happening and with the experienced leadership of Robert A. Iger overseeing the integration, the marrying of the two companies will surely be good for consumers.