Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

The Walt Disney Company has made a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to acquire most of the assets of 21st Century Fox. The transaction would give Disney control of the 20th Century Fox film and television studios, as well as Fox’s stake in Hulu, which will result in Disney gaining majority control of the streaming company.

Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger, who has signed on to remain in that position until the end of 2021, says that Fox CEO James Murdoch will be “integral to the integration process.”

By combining their production and distribution units with those of Fox, Disney would become the first traditional media company with the potential to take on the online streaming giants—Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google. It would also mark the first time that one of Hollywood’s major studios was acquired by another.

Fox News, Fox Sports, and the Fox Broadcasting Company will all remain under the Rupert Murdoch umbrella, fueling speculation that Murdoch could consider reuniting the remaining 21st Century Fox properties with NewsCorp, the publishing side of his business.

The agreement still has to contend with the same kind of regulatory hurdles facing the potential AT&T/Time Warner merger. According to Variety, Disney expects regulatory review to take up to 18 months.

However, the deal is already sending shock waves through the entertainment industry.

One main area of uncertainty is how having one less major film studio would change the process of jockeying for release-date positions of big movies. Another is how the breakup of Fox Broadcasting Company and 20th Century Fox TV Studios would affect the operation of each of those units.