The bombshell news of 21st Century Fox’s pending purchase by Disney Corp. has sent tremors through the media world in recent weeks.
The deal purports to include all of Fox’s movie and TV holdings, which is a massive part of the company’s business. While the Murdoch family will keep most of Fox News and many other Fox stations — including Fox Sports — that move could give Disney a veritable stranglehold on media in the coming years … in all but one arena.
Netflix still dominates streaming media, which is clearly the wave of the future. While Fox does well with movies and extremely well with TV, consumer viewing habits are changing fast, and all trends point to a war between Netflix, Hulu and Amazon for streaming supremacy. Now that Disney will have a stake in Hulu, as part of this deal, they could swing in as a wrecking ball and really shake things up.
One of the biggest coups is the possibility of finally bringing together all of the Marvel movie heroes. For years, fans have been clamoring to see the X-Men in a Marvel Universe movie, but Fox had the rights, so it would never happen. Now, in light of this merger it can, and fan excitement is already running wild.
But there are other ways Disney could get some skin in the streaming game. For one, the company already announced plans for both ESPN and Disney streaming channels. Now, the company will have all the rights to many of Fox’s best shows and movies too. And Star Wars, as well.
Fans are already imagining streaming channels offering Star Wars and Disney content, which could be pulled from Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, forcing fans to subscribe to a Disney-owned channel. If any company could pull that off, it would be Disney. The company already struck gold with its cable Disney Channel, and many market watchers believe a streaming Disney product is the next logical evolution. In fact, the company may offer several, selling them separately or in mini-package deals.
For Murdoch, the move is somewhat of a return to his media roots: a much slimmer, though extremely profitable, stable of media properties including Fox News, MLB, NFL, NASCAR and NCAA sports.
At this point, all of this is guesswork, but it’s a very strong possibility that Netflix, with its relatively young list of network-created shows, could soon be facing the Disney-Fox juggernaut head on, with Amazon and Hulu still peeling away market share. If and when that happens is still up for speculation, but that day is much closer than ever.