The Walt Disney Company has acquired 21st Century Fox in a deal valued at a staggering $52.4 billion. Word of the historic merger came bright and early on Thursday, leaving even those in the know with more questions than answers. Here are the key takeaways from the epic pact:
Will Disney, which already owns ABC, now own Fox, too?
No. The deal does not include the Fox broadcasting network — home to The Simpsons, Family Guy, The X-Files, etc. — or Fox News. Also not included in the deal are Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2. These remaining assets will be spun-off by 21st Century Fox to form a new company.
Which networks did Disney acquire as part of the deal?
Disney’s purchase includes FX Networks (FX, FXX, FXM) and National Geographic channels (NatGeo, NatGeo Wild).
Will Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox impact its plans to launch an OTT streaming service to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu?
As a matter of fact, Disney has been working on not one, but two distinct streaming services. The first, focused on sports, is expected to launch in 2018; the second entertainment-based streamer is on track for 2019. As part of the merger, Disney is acquiring a vast library of TV properties produced by 20th TV, including, but not limited to: This Is Us, American Horror Story, Empire, Modern Family, The Simpsons and Family Guy. Also part of the deal are shows produced by cable division Fox 21 Television Studios, such as Homeland and The Americans. While current streaming and syndication rights would need to be restructured, it’s not unfathomable that some of these properties (specifically, more family-friendly offerings like Modern Family) could wind up on Disney’s entertainment streaming service. This, of course, only entails back catalogs, and would not impact the home of new episodes.
Doesn’t Disney already own a stake in Hulu?
Yes, but the deal now gives Mickey majority control of the streamer, with a 60-percent stake in the company. Disney might attempt to buy out co-owners Comcast/NBC Universal and Time Warner, and consolidate all of their streaming efforts into expanding Hulu, but such a deal seems unlikely. In fact, Disney chief Bob Iger addressed this issue during a conference call on Thursday, indicating that Hulu would be used as the streaming home for acquisitions deemed as “adult-oriented product” from networks like FX.
The Disney-Fox deal is expected to close in 12-18 months.