Disney on Thursday announced a deal to acquire large parts of 21st Century Fox including its movie and television studios, UK broadcaster Sky and Indian TV network Star for $52.4 billion (£39bn) in stock.
The deal will give the U.S. entertainment giant the studios that produce the Avatar movies, ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Modern Family’ and the Marvel characters such as X-Men and The Avengers.
The Murdoch family will continue to own Fox News, Fox Business, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network and other Fox’s Broadcasting network and channels, which will be spun off into a new company called New Fox.
The billionaire media mogul while hoping that his son Lachlan will lead the New Fox said, “I know a lot of you are wondering, why did the Murdochs come to such a momentous decision? Are we retreating? Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment.”
However, it is still uncertain whether James Murdoch will join Disney as part of the deal but according to the Financial Times, the Fox chief executive is expected to cease his professional relationship with his father Rupert and brother Lachlan. The younger Murdoch said, "While the merged business is about scale, the new Fox is about returning to our roots as a lean, aggressive, challenger brand."
Disney's acquisition of many Fox businesses is an indications that the company wants to expand its programme portfolio, so it may take on digital challengers like Amazon and Netflix. Nonetheless, the move is significant for 86-year-old Fox owner after more than five decades of media expansion. Interestingly, the Simpsons had predicted the deal.
However, Ryan Parker from The Hollywood Reporter was quick enough to react and tweeted that one of “The Simpsons” showrunners, Al Jean, told him, “I predict people will make far too much of this mere coincidence.”
According to Reuters, that the latest SEC filings reflects that Disney would have $2bn in cost savings from the deal and would own or operate 272 TV stations globally. The company CEO Bob Iger said the deal would bring together “some of the world’s iconic entertainment franchises, along with some truly extraordinary creative talent and broad international presence" to help meet the changing demands of consumers.
In the meanwhile, White House confirmed that US President congratulated Rupert Murdoch on the deal. "I know that the president spoke with Rupert Murdoch earlier today, congratulated him on the deal,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.