The Walt Disney Co. has officially acquired 21st Century Fox’s film and television divisions in an all-stock deal worth $52.4 billion. The sale between Disney and Fox has been rumored for weeks with even Comcast throwing its name into the mix for a short time. The merger between Disney and Fox marks a historic union of Hollywood titans and will allow Disney to strengthen its television and film businesses against its many competitors. Under the terms of the deal, Fox will retain the Fox News Channel, Fox Broadcasting, and the FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes, and Big Ten Network sports channels. These assets will spinoff into a new “Fox” company that will focus on live news and sports brands. While the agreement is subject to the approval of antitrust regulators, Disney expects the regulatory review of the acquisition to take as long as 18 months and has confidence that it will be approved.
Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Iger stated:
“We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’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 deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”
Disney chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, has extended his contract with the company for another two years, through the end of 2021, in order to oversee the integration of 21st Century Fox’s assets. Also, 21st Century Fox shareholders will receive about 25% of Disney shares. Disney plans on expanding its content production infrastructure with the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, a cable group that includes FX, FXX, National Geographic, 300-plus international channels, and 22 regional sports networks. Also included are film subsidiaries, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Blue Sky Studios, 30% stake in Hulu, 50% share of Endemol Shine Group, the Star India satellite service, and Fox’s 39% interest in Euro satellite broadcaster Sky. 21st Century Fox will continue to pursue its acquisition of the remaining 61% stake in the European satellite broadcaster Sky that it does not already own with the intention of Disney taking it over when the Disney-Fox merger is completed.
Of the acquisition, 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch said:
“We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry. Furthermore, I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”
For Disney, the acquisition provides new weight and even gives it more control over some of the content that powers its business. Fox owns the studio that produces the ABC hit Modern Family. Now Disney will take full control of the program, and benefit from syndication and other distribution of the series along with other critically acclaimed shows including; The Americans, This Is Us, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Modern Family, and The Simpsons. The 20th Century Fox studio has the film rights for Marvel characters such as the X-Men, Deadpool, Fantastic Four, and Silver Surfer — the result of deals struck before Disney purchased Marvel in 2009. This would give Disney full rights to all of its Marvel characters — except for Namor, Hulk, and Spider-Man. Fox also controls rights to the only Star Wars film that is not under Disney’s ownership, Star Wars: A New Hope. Other film and franchise rights Disney will gain include Avatar, Alien, Predator, Independence Day, Gone Girl, The Shape of Water, and The Martian.
Are you exciting about Disney acquiring most of Fox? Which franchises would you like Disney to pursue first? Leave your comments below!