Report: Disney May Buy 21st Century Fox

The legendary film company 21st Century Fox (once 20th Century Fox) has reportedly been communicating with the Walt Disney Co. about the idea that Disney will purchase it, according to CNBC.

21st Century Fox is apparently desirous of focusing on news and sports, while Disney, which is preparing a direct-to-consumer entertainment streaming offering, could gain from Fox's pathway to international markets, such as the U.K., Germany and Italy, whether through its networks or its 39% ownership of Sky.

Disney would be prevented by law from owning two broadcast networks, and thus would not purchase the Fox broadcast network. As CNBC notes, “It would not buy Fox's sports programming assets in the belief that combining them with ESPN could be seen as anti-competitive from an antitrust standpoint and it would not buy the Fox News or Business channel. Disney would also not purchase Fox's local broadcasting affiliates, according to people familiar with the negotiations.”

But by purchasing parts of 21st Century Fox, Disney would grab entertainment networks such as FX and National Geographic.

Analyst Laura Martin, asked if a prospective purchase, allowing Disney to compete more effectively with Netflix in direct-to-consumer entertainment streaming, answered:

Yes … Disney is a better operator; these assets they are talking about buying from Fox would double the profitability and they could bring more assets direct to consumer. These studios are worth so much more when they consolidate. So the big upside here would be putting the Fox studio, which is an underperformer in both TV and film, and put it in Disney’s hands.

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