After much speculation, it’s finally come to pass. Last week, Disney and 21st Century Fox announced that the former will buy most of the latter’s assets in a deal worth $52.4 billion.
Of course, this news has rocked the media landscape, given its massive size. Expanding upon an earlier post, I’ll cover some of the ramifications of this deal.
What assets Disney’s gaining
Disney’s gaining quite a few assets, though not Fox News, the Fox network, or Fox Sports (per antitrust laws). Murdoch’s also keeping the 20th Century Fox studio lot itself.
The major assets Disney gets include:
- 20th Century Fox.
- Blue Sky Studios.
- Movie franchises, including:
- “Ice Age”
- The film rights to the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four.
- Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu, which when combined with Disney’s own 30% stake gives it majority control. I assume Disney will still launch its own separate streaming service, however.
- “National Geographic,” both the magazine and cable channel.
- Fox’s stake in Boom! Studios comics (the publishers of “Lumberjanes” and “Goldie Vance”).
- FX and FXX cable channels.
- The regional Fox Sports channels, but not the national ones.
- A very large library of TV shows, including:
- “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
- “WKRP in Cincinnati”
- “Hill Street Blues”
- “St. Elsewhere”
- “The Simpsons”
- “Family Guy”
The Fox brand will now be split between two companies, Disney (with most of the Fox assets) and “New Fox” (as Murdoch has nicknamed his remaining assets). That sounds slightly confusing going forward (“20th century Fox doesn’t own Fox the network? But they have the same logo!”).
I wonder if Disney will rename anything Fox-related, like they did when they bought Fox Family years ago? In 2001, Disney bought Fox Family, and renamed it “ABC Family”; today, it’s called “Freeform.”
“Alien” and “Predator” will be left alone
I’ve seen remarks online by some worried about Disney now owning R-rated sci-fi franchises like “Alien” and “Predator.” I’d imagine they’ll be left alone, just like Marvel and Lucasfilm.
Boom! Studios stake?
Fox has a small stake in ownership of Boom! Studios. Given Disney owns Marvel, I wonder if they’ll sell their Boom stake. I assume the current licensed Disney Duck comics aren’t going anywhere (staying put with IDW).
The future of Blue Sky Studios?
The future of Blue Sky Studios, home of the “Ice Age” films, now seems in doubt. Given Disney has Disney and Pixar (plus DisneyToon), the odds they need yet another animation studio seems iffy. The fact it’s projected 5,000 to 10,000 people could lose their jobs from this merger also doesn’t sound promising. (Wikipedia says Blue Sky currently employs around 500 people.) This assumes that Blue Sky isn’t sold off to some other company or spun off on its own, I suppose.
Meet the New Fox, same as the Old Fox
I get the impression that Murdoch’s trying to shore up his legacy (for his offspring, etc.) given his advancing age. Since he’s always been more interested in journalism than entertainment, I suppose it makes sense that he’d want to double down on his News Corp side of things. The fact Fox News was apparently more profitable than the entertainment side of the company suggests Murdoch won’t miss owning “The Simpsons.”
Of course, this doesn’t change that Murdoch’s impact on journalism has been an awful one. The fact this deal gives Murdoch even more money to funnel into Fox News isn’t a good thing, either.
Concentration of media is a bad thing
This sale leaves just four media conglomerates dominating the landscape: Time Warner (possibly soon to be owned by AT&T), Disney, Comcast, and National Amusements (CBS/Viacom).
As I’ve stated before, this isn’t a good thing from a media diversity standpoint, and thus I’m against this merger on principle. Unfortunately, antitrust rules seem to be seen these days as a roadblock to the United States’ very laissez-faire attitude toward capitalism (and regulation of such).