The Walt Disney Company has closed its huge $71bn ($ 71,000,000,000!) acquisition of the Murdoch owned entertainment business 21st Century Fox. The groundbreaking deal, which has been in development for some time, was finalised just after midnight ET and brings together some of the industries best-loved characters and franchises, which includes The Simpsons, Star Wars, many of the Marvel characters, the National Geographic, and a whole range of other TV, film and entertainment assets.
Disney CEO Bob Iger, in a press release posted earlier this morning, stated that this was 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 preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”
The acquisition comes at a pivotal moment for Disney, as it prepares to launch its new streaming service Disney+ later this year, in an attempt to challenge Netflix and Amazon for streaming audience share. With new technology and new forms of viewing demand, the entertainment industry, like Disney, has changed since the days of Cinderella and Snow White, and Disney is trying – and succeeding – to adapt to this “dynamic and transformative era.”
The move also means that Disney now owns a 60 percent stake in Hulu, doubling its previous investment. As the world moves increasingly online, Disney is creating or buying avenues that allow it to go straight to the customer.
Along with the creative dominance, this gives The Walt Disney Co. (it is estimated that Disney now owns a 40% share in the market) more control over the creation and distribution of film and TV. Whether on network channels, cinemas, or streaming services, Disney will be able to increase the amount of data they can gain from our viewing habits. This type of information is increasingly desirable and valuable as the industries biggest stars compete for our attention.
The move will no doubt mean more productions from Disney as it aims to creates original content for its new services, but the news isn’t all good. Unfortunately, it is estimated that somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 jobs will be lost with the merger. But do we really care if we get the chance to see X-men (Fox) and the Avengers (Disney) battle it out for the superhero showdown of the century?