Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

“Everything the light touches is our kingdom.”

It’s a line from Disney’s “The Lion King,” spoken by Mufasa to young Simba as they sit atop Pride Rock. And on Wednesday morning, just after midnight on the East Coast, it seemed to describe the Walt Disney Co. itself, as the conglomerate closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets. It is now an entertainment colossus the size of which the world has never seen.

The ripple effects may not become clear for years. Analysts say that Disney could force smaller studios to merge as they scramble to compete. It will have greater leverage over theater owners when it comes to box office splits. And Disney’s plans to use Fox content to forcefully move into streaming could slow the growth of Netflix.

Story continues below advertisement

“This deal definitely reshapes the landscape,” said Michael Nathanson, a leading media analyst.

Disney now owns most of Rupert Murdoch’s former empire, including the 20th Century Fox movie and television studio, which includes the “X-Men,” “Avatar” and “Simpsons” franchises; Blue Sky, the “Ice Age” animation studio that is based in Connecticut; the National Geographic and FX cable networks; most of the streaming service Hulu; and Star, a fast-growing television-service provider in India.

Disney had been a mere behemoth, dominating sports television through ESPN, controlling the global theme park business and running Hollywood’s No. 1 movie operation, with studios that include Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm. But the company decided it needed to bulk up even more as the tech giants aggressively moved into Hollywood. The competition now includes Apple, which is scheduled to unveil its television and movie plans on Monday.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us,” Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said in a statement Tuesday.

Iger has staked his legacy on this deal, and he had to fend off an aggressive play by Comcast on two continents to gain control of Murdoch’s trove. (Iger ultimately lost Sky, the British pay-television company.) The acquisition is the largest in Disney’s 96-year history, dwarfing even the 1995 purchase of Capital Cities/ABC. That cost $19 billion (about $32 billion in today’s money) and, because it included ESPN, served as a growth engine for Disney for two decades.

The Fox assets are meant to do the same for Disney in the years ahead. Disney is trying to become less dependent on cable channels like ESPN, which are in slow, steady decline owing to cord-cutting. Instead, Disney has decided to move into the rapidly growing realm of online video, a direct-to-consumer business defined by Netflix. Iger believes the Fox assets will enhance that plan, which includes a streaming service called Disney+ later this year.

“The pace of disruption has only hastened,” Iger told The New York Times in an interview when the deal was announced. “This will allow us to greatly accelerate our direct-to-consumer strategy, which is our highest priority.”

Story continues below advertisement

The challenges are daunting. Iger and his lieutenants need to persuade investors to start viewing Disney more like a technology company, where near-term financial turbulence is often overlooked. Integrating the Fox assets will bring headaches that include substantial layoffs — analysts project more than 3,000 — and the melding of two starkly different corporate cultures. When the deal was announced in December 2017, James L. Brooks, a creator of “The Simpsons,” posted an image on Twitter that showed an angry Homer Simpson strangling Mickey Mouse.

To win approval from antitrust regulators around the world, Disney had to agree to modest concessions.

It is already deep in the process of selling Fox’s 22 regional sports channels, a move required by the Justice Department. The New York Yankees teamed with Amazon this month, for instance, to buy the YES Network, which serves the New York metropolitan area, for roughly $3.5 billion. To appease European regulators, Disney agreed to divest a stake in A+E Networks, which include the History channel. (Disney will retain 50 percent ownership of the division in the United States; Hearst owns the other half.)

At Disney’s annual meeting this month, Iger said the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight labels — trumpet fanfares included — would continue to exist. That decision pleased Hollywood, but it could lead to consumer confusion since Murdoch retained ownership of the Fox broadcast network, a chain of local Fox television stations and his crown jewel, Fox News. Those businesses, along with the FS1 sports channel, were rolled into a new publicly traded company, Fox Corp., on Tuesday.

Paul Ryan, the former Republican congressman from Wisconsin who served as speaker of the House from October 2015 to January 2019, joined the Fox board Tuesday. Other board members include Murdoch and Roland A. Hernandez, a former chief executive of Telemundo. Murdoch’s oldest son, Lachlan, serves as the new company’s chief executive.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies