We learned earlier this week that Disney has been engaged in talks to acquire much of 21st Century Fox. Reports have since surfaced indicating that those talks have stalled, if not derailed entirely. But whatever the status of the negotiations between the two companies, there’s nonetheless a lot to unpack about the potential sale, especially as we continue to learn more about what may be driving each side’s interest.
Thanks to a report in the Wall Street Journal, we’ve now gained some further insight into what Disney likely hoped to gain from all this. In the wake of the story breaking, much of the online commentary (including our own) jumped on the most exciting possibilities for fans. This included the likelihood of the X-Men taking their rightful place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the suddenly increased possibility of the original cuts of the classic ‘Star Wars’ trilogy seeing a proper re-release. But perhaps the most obvious benefit to Disney is one that we only touched on in passing. You see, it all comes down to streaming.
As you may have heard over the past you months, the Mouse House is hard at work establishing their own streaming service (the news broke with the announcement that they would be pulling their content from Netflix ahead of launch). At the time, it seemed that the service would largely exist as a hub of sorts, where one could find all of Disney’s content – from ‘Snow White’ to ‘Star Wars’ – under the same roof. But, because Disney is evidently a firm believer in the philosophy of going big or going home, it is becoming increasingly clear that they view the service – currently targeted for a 2019 launch – as less of a Disney-focused niche and more as a direct competitor to Netflix. And make no mistake, adding Fox’s library of content to their own would go a long way toward establishing them as exactly that.
But that wouldn’t be the only streaming benefit the studio would reap. Fox also holds a thirty percent stake in Hulu. While we have no way of knowing whether or not that would be a part of the deal, that stake would give Disney majority control of Hulu. So even if the proprietary service improbably fell flat on its face, a Hulu acquisition would provide one hell of a cushion.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on this story as it develops.