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Disney In Talks To Acquire 21st Century Fox

In the United States, 90% of mainstream entertainment is controlled by just five companies and that number could soon shrink to four.

The Walt Disney Company has been holding talks with 21st Century Fox to acquire its entertainment holdings, CNBC reported today.

The two companies are not negotiating the deal at the moment, but had been doing so in the past few weeks and could restart talks again at a later date.

The goal of the sale for Fox would be to unload its entertainment assets, so it can focus exclusively on news and sports.

The purchase would allow Disney to significantly expand its film and television production capabilities, while also growing its content library of films and franchises (Hidden Figures, Avatar, The Revenant, Night at the Museum), which could play a key role as Disney readies to launch its own streaming service to compete against Netflix and Amazon.

Disney, which owns ABC network, would not buy the Fox broadcast network due to an FCC regulation that prevents common ownership of any of the four major broadcasters. It also wouldn’t buy Fox News, Fox Business, Fox’s sports channels, or Fox’s television stations.

But, in addition to the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight film studios (both owned by 21st Century Fox), Disney could potentially add the following to its assets: FX and National Geographic-branded networks; feature animation producer Blue Sky Studios; reality show production company Endemol Shine Group; and international broadcasters like Asia’s Star TV (which has 58 channels in India alone) and pan-European broadcaster Sky (in which Fox owns a 39% share). Presumably, Fox TV Animation, which producers The Simpson and Family Guy, would also be a part of the deal.

Incidentally, The Simpsons had already made the joke that Fox would one day be owned by Disney:

Screencap from "The Simpsons."

An acquisition of Fox wouldn’t be particularly surprising for the Disney Company under CEO Bob Iger, who took over in 2005 and has said he will step down in 2019. Iger’s key strategy in the last 13 years has been growth through acquisition, and Disney has already paid billions to acquire IP producers like Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. By adding the 20th Century Fox film studio to Disney’s holdings, Iger would create an unparalleled entertainment conglomerate – at least in terms of scale if nothing else.

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