Disney & 21st Century Fox Makes $52.4 Billion Deal In Big Bet on Streaming

Updated Friday 15 December 2017 7:37
Disney & 21st Century Fox Makes $52.4 Billion Deal In Big Bet on Streaming
Walt Disney Company on Thursday said that it had reached a deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox, the empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4 billion. A deal that will reverberate from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to TVs and smartphones around the world.

While the agreement is subject to the approval of antitrust regulators — and the Justice Department recently moved to block a big media company, AT&T, from becoming even bigger — Disney is acknowledging that the future of television and movie viewing is online. The acquisition, which would make Disney a colossus unlike anything Hollywood has ever seen, is the biggest counterattack from a traditional media company against the tech giants that have aggressively moved into the entertainment business.

Disney has already announced an ambitious plan to introduce two streaming services by 2019. With this deal and the wealth of movies, TV shows and sports programming it provides, the company will now have the muscle to challenge Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the fast-growing realm of online video.

“The pace of disruption has only hastened,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive and chairman, said in an interview. “This will allow us to greatly accelerate our direct-to-consumer strategy, which is our highest priority.”

At the same time, the agreement means that one of moviedom’s most celebrated studios, 20th Century Fox, will be downsized, with some operations folded into Walt Disney Studios or refocused to make films for online distribution. Founded in 1935, the Fox studio championed Marilyn Monroe, produced classics like “The Sound of Music,” released the first “Star Wars” movie and, more recently, turned “Avatar” into the biggest ticket-seller of all time.

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