In a media landscape-changing, multi-billion-dollar deal, The Walt Disney Co. announced on Thursday that it will acquire much of the assets of Twenty-First Century Fox, including its movie studios, its coveted film and television library, and multiple networks. The deal, worth a total of $66.1 billion, will dramatically impact the online streaming landscape, particularly Netflix, as Disney plans to aggressively expand its streaming operation. It will also result in a new Fox spinoff company. Below are some of the most significant aspects of the deal.
1. Disney is acquiring Fox's movie studios, film and television content, and several networks.
Disney will acquire Fox's film and television studios, though Rupert Murdoch will maintain control of Fox's 53-acre Los Angeles studio on Pico Boulevard with the formation of the Fox spinoff company, which will include Fox News. The deal includes Fox's extensive film and television library, which will greatly expand Disney's streaming footprint, which the company plans to push heavily. Disney will acquire some of Fox's networks, including Nat Geo, FX, and Fox's Asian network Star TV. The deal also gives Disney Fox's 39% stake in Sky and 30% stake in Hulu.
2. The total deal is valued at $66.1 billion.
In total, the Disney-Fox deal is worth around $66.1 billion. Disney will acquire many of Fox's assets for $52.4 billion in stock and assume $13.7 of Fox's net debt. Disney says that deal will yield savings of at least $2 billion.
"Disney will issue about 515 million new shares to current Fox stockholders, who will have about a 25 percent stake in the new Disney," CNBC reports. Fox will pay out an $8.5 billion cash dividend to shareholders before the acquisition closes. The deal values Fox at around $40 a share, higher than it had traded on the day before the agreement was officially announced. CNBC reports that based on Disney's closing share price Wednesday, the combined Fox business was valued at $29.54 per share.
3. The deal greatly expands Disney's content, which will impact the streaming landscape.
One of the key factors driving Disney to push for the $66.1 billion deal is the company's plan to aggressively push its online streaming platform. The acquisition of Fox's extensive film library will not only greatly expand Disney's content, it will hurt the company's key competitor, Netflix. After announcing in August that it would pull its films from Netflix, Disney is expected to do the same with all 21st Century Fox content. Netflix has been preparing for such developments, increasingly producing original content in part to protect itself from loss of licensed content.
Disney's controlling interest in Hulu would give it "a decisive voice in the future direction of the service," Deadline notes, with some investors now expecting Disney to push for folding Hulu into its streaming platform, "giving it an estimated 16-million subscriber head-start with the new direct-to-consumer offering." Disney's plans to expand its digital footprint also includes offering a stand-alone ESPN streaming service.
4. Fox will form a spinoff company that includes Fox News.
Disney will not acquire Fox Broadcasting networks, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, its broadcast network or local stations, or its key national sports networks, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network. Before the deal goes into effect, Fox will form a spinoff company that includes the retained networks and stations. The Los Angeles studio on Pico is expected to remain the home of many of its productions. "Insiders expect the remaining Fox assets to eventually merge with News Corp., whose holdings include the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and The Times of London," Deadline reports.
5. Bob Iger will remain, but executive shakeups are coming.
While Disney's chairman and CEO Bob Iger will remain in place through 2021, which the board of directors of both companies requested, many executive positions are up in the air. "Even though it will take 12 to 18 months to gain the necessary approvals to fuse the company, there has been heightened uncertainty since word of the talks came back around two weeks ago for anyone at Fox whose job might be considered “redundant” after the studios combine, Deadline reports.
Insiders believe Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn will oversee the integration of the film divisions, Deadline notes, while Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures president Sean Bailey may become head of all live action films. What roles top-level TV executives for the two companies will play remains to be seen. Among the TV executives are 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice, Disney-AB TV Group president Ben Sherwood, and Dana Walden and Gary Newman, the chairmen of Fox TV Group.