21st Century Fox and Disney have been in on again, off again negotiations according to CNBC. While discussions are reportedly not currently going on, that doesn’t mean that there is no chance of this happening. As it stands 21st Century Fox is debating weather or not to sell the majority of it’s business which would include their movie studios, TV production, international assets, and entertainment networks like FX. The purported deal would not include assets such as Fox News, Sports, or local affiliates.
According to sources, the main motivating factor of Fox considering a sell-off of major assets is the concern that they will not be able to compete in a new digital market against the likes of Amazon and Netflix. Fox may not feel that they are able to scale their product effectively enough, leading to a sell-high mindset. For Disney, buying Fox could help shore up some holes in their current line-up. As it stands Fox still owns the rights to the mutants in the Marvel Universe, and still holds certain rights to the original Star Wars trilogy. This could be the main driving force for Disney to keep talks open, and possibly spend more than would otherwise be necessary.
The interesting part to all of this for me is that Fox feels that they cannot compete against Netflix and Amazon. With Disney working on a streaming service of their own, adding more Fox content is only something that can help their position to consumers. There are concerns, of course though, when talking about Disney buying out another major competitor.
Oligopolies have been becoming more commonplace in the United States, and lowering competition is almost never good for the consumer. While a sale of assets makes sense for both Disney and Fox, we should spend some time wondering if that sale is good for consumers. Disney has proven that they can make good movies, and while it would be great to see a good Fantastic 4, or an Avengers film with mutants intertwined, we also have the business practices looming over Disney that has been reported by the LA Times, leading to more controversy in the name of a ban against the LA Times, Disney being barred from awards, and then Disney subsequently lifting the ban on the LA Times.
The question I’ve been asking myself and we should ask each-other is if this is good for anyone besides Disney and Fox. Disney already controls a lot of business, and has a stranglehold on Hollywood, giving them more power and lessening the competition would likely hurt the quality and quantity of content we get moving forward. In lieu of this all, Disney reported losses in revenue and profits Year-over-year, and saw their stock tick down because of it. Right now Disney needs good press, and the leaks from the possible 21st Century Fox buyout shouldn’t surprise anyone, at this point we should expect more leaks and announcements whenever Disney finds themselves in PR turmoil. It won’t surprise me when the deal is finalized, but it will sadden me that the competition in Hollywood just got that much smaller.