After months of negotiations, Walt Disney has finally closed its $71 billion acquisition of Fox's entertainment business. Among other things, it paves the way for Disney to launch its streaming service, Disney Plus, due out later this year. It will also likely lead to layoffs in thousands, thanks to duplication in Fox and Disney film production staff. Craig Hunegs, former Warner Bros TV group's head of business and former president of the studio's digital networks wing is taking up the role of president at the Disney Television Studio.
When he was with Warner Bros TV, he was responsible for not just the growth of the business but also played a key role in the US broadcast production as well as the SVOD services. Apart from being the founding president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks, he was also the man behind the DC Universe streaming platform as we know today. The platform revolutionized DC's Universe's content for sure and Hunegs definitely seemed to understand what was required from a streaming service like this.
With this merger, Disney now has assets like 'X-Men', 'The Simpsons' and 'Deadpool' at its beck and call. It already has classic Disney cartoons, 'Star Wars,' Pixar, the Muppets and some of the Marvel characters. With this mammoth merger, it also has programs shown on such Fox channels as FX Networks and National Geographic. Fox's productions also include "The Americans," ''This Is Us" and "Modern Family."
In addition to boosting the Disney streaming service, expected to debut next year, the deal paves the way for Marvel's X-Men and the Avengers to reunite in future movies. Though Disney owns Marvel Studios, some characters including the X-Men had already been licensed to Fox. Disney also gets a controlling stake in the existing streaming service Hulu, which it plans to keep operating as a home for more general programming. Family-friendly shows and movies will head to Disney Plus.
No pricing has been disclosed for Disney Plus. The streaming service will feature five categories of material: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Disney charges $5 a month for ESPN Plus, a service that offers to programme distinct from the ESPN cable channel.
Meanwhile, Fox Corp. — the parts of 21st Century Fox that are not part of the deal, including Fox News, Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting — started trading on the Nasdaq under the "FOX" and "FOXA" tickers on Tuesday.
- With AP inputs