The Walt Disney Company announced Thursday it has finalized the acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion all-stock transaction that will likely have massive implications for the American entertainment industry.
The acquisition, which awaits the approval of federal regulators, was prompted by Disney CEO Robert Iger’s desire to propel Disney into the streaming space with the hopes of competing with giants like Netflix and Amazon. To that end, the deal grants Disney ownership of 21st Century Fox’s movie studio, regional sports networks, cable channels FX and National Geographic as well as Fox’s stakes in Hulu and two of Fox’s international properties: Sky of Britain and Star of India.
The Fox broadcasting companies, Fox News and Fox Business among them, will be spun off under a separate company.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” Iger said in a statement. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building”
The merger provides Disney with the entertainment properties necessary to compete with the more youthful Silicon Valley entertainment companies but will also result in the downsizing of the historic 20th Century Fox studios.
Disney has plans to introduce two streaming services in the near future; ESPN Plus is expected to arrive in the spring, while another platform based on the Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar brands will arrive late next year. The acquisition will also give Disney access to 21st Century Fox’s minority stake in Hulu – the established television streaming service – resulting in Disney having a controlling stake in the platform, as it already owned 30 percent.
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