by Ray Keating
News/Analysis
DisneyBizJournal.com
July 27, 2018

Shareholders of both Walt Disney and 21st Century Fox, as expected, today approved the deal for Disney to acquire Fox’s film and television studios.

Going forward, there are several things to watch.

First, it’s not a final deal yet, as approvals from regulators outside of the U.S. (as the U.S. Department of Justice already has given its approval), such as in Europe and China, are needed.

Second, what’s going to happen in the bidding war between Fox and Comcast for Sky PLC pay-television and the stake in Hulu? Comcast has the current edge with a more lucrative offer. If Disney/Fox were to win that contest, however, it would feed into Disney’s streaming service plan.

Third, and speaking of the Disney streaming service, that’s scheduled for a late 2019 launch. Along with Amazon and Netflix, this Disney service will further redefine distribution of television programs and movies, with more being piped right into the home.

Fourth, is this another step toward the death of movie theaters? No. But it does point to further consolidation, and at the same time, dramatic steps up in customer services. We’ve already seen improved efforts to make a trip to the theater a more enjoyable experience, and that will continue.

Fifth, this merger will do wonders for competition and consumer choice – which might sound counterintuitive to many. But this move by Disney will only further spur competitors, like Amazon, Netflix, AT&T/Time Warner, Comcast, perhaps Wal-Mart, and who knows who else (maybe Apple and, of course, the future company/service that few envision today), to step up content production. Indeed, as widely report, Netflix has announced that it will be spending some $8 billion this year on programming.

In the end, all members of the entertainment industry need to work harder and smarter to figure out how to best compete in this ever-changing environment, consumers are going to experience new and improved services and choices. That’s certainly good news for Disney aficionados.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels, with the two latest books being Reagan Country: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel and Heroes and Villains: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story. He can be contacted at raykeating@keatingreports.com.