If you’re a Disney shareholder or are considering a position, the company’s bid for Fox’s entertainment assets is welcome news. Although rival Comcast put up a serious fight in an attempt to play spoiler, insiders remained confident that Disney’s superior track record and more stable offering would ultimately win the day.
They were spot on. Late this week, Comcast pulled out of the contentious bidding war, stating that they will instead focus on acquiring Sky, one of the so-called crown jewels in European media. Comcast execs also offered a congratulatory tone to Disney and to the Fox family, specifically mentioning Rupert Murdoch. It was a sharp shift from earlier strident rhetoric, which saw the bidding war jump in price.
But with the dust largely settled – Disney and Fox shareholders will vote on the deal next week – one of the biggest stories in Hollywood and the financial markets shifts to a new reality.
Arguably, Disney now owns the most formidable entertainment asset base in history. After the deal officially closes, the Magic Kingdom will own Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm studios, as well as all the Fox movie and TV studios. These include lucrative franchises such as The Simpsons, Avatar, and Alien.
Let’s not forget that Disney is Disney. Almost every childhood has been influenced – and in some cases, reared – through their G-rated programing. Essentially, this means that Disney’s Fox bid allows for total media control from the cradle to the grave.
Ask any child to quote a Disney cartoon, and they’ll likely cite at least one, if not several. But the same goes for adults. One of the most strategic bids in all of corporate deal-making history was Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, which of course owns the Star Wars franchise.
That’s a movie title that everyone wants to see, irrespective of age, race, religion, or national identity. And because of that, Disney not only has an entertainment asset, but a generational one.
Furthermore, the box-office landscape bolsters this media hegemony. Before the cord-cutting phenomenon, the big screen represented the premiere platform for content consumption. You can see quantifiably in the number of high-grossing films that cut across several genres. Today, the box office is a money pit, with fewer people turning up, leading star producers and celebrities to thank audience members for buying tickets.
There’s just one exception – comic book and sci-fi related franchises. You’re not going to find anyone from the Star Wars community beg people to watch their films; they know they’re coming. Again, this trend is great if you’re a Disney shareholder. But if you yearn for media and content diversity, you’re out of luck.
Disney’s higher, superior bid may have killed Comcast’s dreams. But it also killed any hope that Hollywood will return to its glory days.