We're about to see two entertainment behemoths come together, as The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have officially announced a deal. As a result, Disney will acquire Fox's film and much of its TV operations for a price of over $52 billion in stock.
Disney will take over the Nat Geo network, Star TV, Fox's movie studio operations and its stakes in both Sky and Hulu, as well as the parts of the business that focus on regional sports broadcasting. It'll gain a majority stake in Hulu through the deal, too. Fox will retain Fox News, its basic broadcast network and its national sports channels.
One of the reasons Disney already dominates the entertainment landscape is because of big acquisitions under CEO Bob Iger — Pixar, Marvel and most recently Lucasfilm. The move will bulk up Disney's content library in advance of the planned launch of the studio's streaming service in 2019. It could also end up posing a significant business threat to Netflix, since Disney has shown it wants to put more of its own original content on its own streaming service which is set for launch in 2019, vs. on its soon-to-be rival.
And while Disney already does pretty well on the superhero side thanks, the deal brings the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four back to Marvel. So maybe that Avengers/X-Men cinematic crossover you've been dreaming about will finally happen.
Another way to look at the deal: Disney and Fox rank number two and four, respectively, in the domestic box office for the year thus far, and collectively pulled in more than 30 percent of total domestic grosses.
In recent weeks, there's been plenty of reporting and speculation around the deal, with CNBC saying that the announcement would come today. As expected, Disney CEO Robert Iger has also announced his intent to remain Chairman and CEO of Disney as part of the deal through 2021, instead of retiring in 2019 as previously planned.
The deal still needs regulatory approval, which is hardly guaranteed, especially given the Department of Justice's resistance to the AT&T-Time Warner deal.