A media house whose scale can only be imagined is not far off as Disney has closed the acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment business deal worth its $71bn. The deal includes franchises such as Cinderella, The Simpsons and Star Wars, all of which would come now directly come under the Disney umbrella.
The deal was closed shortly after midnight in New York time on Wednesday.
The deal is expected to give an unprecedented boost to the content of Disney because high viewership media such as the Fox film and TV studios, the FX networks, National Geographic and the Indian TV giant Star India also comes under the deal.
Disney also has announced its plans to soon launch its own streaming service called Disney Plus sometime by this year in a direct challenge to the likes of Netflix in terms of market share in the global streaming industry.
The catalogue of content available with Disney even before the acquisition was much more than enviable as it included its classic cartoon series, Star Wars and a number of the Marvel characters. Following the completion of the acquisition, Disney would now have at its disposal the likes of X-Men and Deadpool which will be a potent weapon in its plans to challenge the dominance of Netflix and Amazon in the streaming business.
Disney would also be able to exercise complete control over TV shows and movies from start to finish because of the deal. That would include decision making on programme creation to distribution though television channels, cinemas, streaming services and other ways of watching entertainment.
The move was hailed by Robert Iger, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company, in a statement.
“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us – one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders. Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the pre-eminent global entertainment company, well-positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era,” Iger said.
In Hollywood, the era of the “Big Six” studios was immediately cut down to five with the deal – as the now the only large studios present are Warner Bros, Universal, Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures and Disney.
The deal however has also thrown up concerns over major job cuts and analysts predict that as many as 4000 job cuts would result because of the deal.
The employees of Fox were thanked for their services in a letter two days before the acquisition by Murdoch, the billionaire former owner of executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox. Some of the other properties of Fox that were not part of the deal – such as its news and sports businesses, have been included as separate companies after their spin off, under the newly formed conglomerate Fox Corporation.
In the meantime, the 30 per cent stake in streaming service Hulu has been doubled by Disney which now makes it the largest stakeholder in the streaming company.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)