NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Disney Closes On $71 Billion Acquisition Of Fox's Entertainment Business


Many a movie begins with this brass fanfare.


INSKEEP: It's the signature of a film by 21st Century Fox. Just after midnight, that music and the studios behind it became part of the Disney empire. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans has been following a huge merger, and he's on the line.

Eric, good morning.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Yeah. You know, I'm reminded, the Chipmunks did a version of that (laughter)...

INSKEEP: (Laughter). Did they really?

DEGGANS: Maybe we'll get to hear that.

INSKEEP: (Laughter). We can hope for that. We can hope for that. OK. So that combines with the people who did, (singing) "When You Wish Upon A Star" - on and on. How big a deal is this?

DEGGANS: It's a huge deal - one of the biggest media deals in recent history. Regulatory agencies across the world had to sign off on this deal, including the U.S. Department of Justice, which made Disney sell off a bunch of regional sports networks that Fox owned, just to keep them from dominating too much of the sports TV industry here. So yeah, this is a big deal.

INSKEEP: What does Disney get? I mean, what that had the label Fox on it goes over to Disney?

DEGGANS: So this is a $71.3 billion deal, and it involves two of the biggest studios in Hollywood. So there's a lot of names involved in this in TV and film that folks will recognize. So Disney gets outlets like 20th Century Fox Television, which produces shows like "Empire" and "Modern Family." They get Fox animation and National Geographic partners. Now, Fox, meanwhile, has created this slimmed-down company to include a lot of the stuff that Disney didn't buy. So they have Fox News Channel, Fox Business network, the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports. And in fact, the former speaker of the House Paul Ryan was named to the board of that new Fox Corporation.

INSKEEP: So Rupert Murdoch's family which, of course, has controlled Fox - Murdoch keeps the stuff which, we can imagine, is closest to his heart, like the Fox News Channel and gets rid of some of this other stuff.

DEGGANS: Right, a company that's a little more focused on news and sports.

INSKEEP: OK. Couple of consequences here - one, you could imagine, a bunch of layoffs as these two companies consolidate. Is that likely?

DEGGANS: Yeah. There's a lot of concern and fear at lower levels in the entertainment industry that thousands of people could lose their jobs when Disney starts to consolidate its film and TV properties. We've already heard about some of these bigger executives who are going to shuffle around. You know, there's some folks from Fox, high-level TV executives, that are going to move over to Disney to help run their TV outfits. And then a big executive from AMC was moved over and took a job running Fox Entertainment. So this is going to be interesting.

INSKEEP: And will this change what we see?

DEGGANS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And this is another step in the streaming wars, in a way. You know, Disney is getting bigger to compete with, like, Amazon and Netflix. They are - you know, everything from "Star Wars" to "Deadpool" is going to be in the same home, the same corporate home. They have this streaming service, called Disney+, that's starting up. So they're going to get a lot of material for that. They're getting a controlling stake in Hulu, which is another streamer.

So there's a sense that some of the more adult-oriented stuff might end up on Hulu and the more family stuff might end up on Disney+. And then there's the question of what's going to happen with Disney-owned ABC and the Fox broadcast network once they have 12 months to really develop some new programming for each of those broadcasters.

INSKEEP: And we should note that 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney Pictures are both financial supporters of NPR. And we've been listening to NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Eric, thanks.

DEGGANS: All right. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.