The Walt Disney Company Has Acquired 21st Century Fox Assets and Now Has Majority Control Over Hulu

Following weeks of news coverage about the potential acquisition of certain Fox assets by The Walt Disney Company, today the confirmation of that acquisition has come from Disney with a press release detailing the specific parts of Fox that will now merge into Disney. Notably, Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox, including Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television Studios and Fox-related cable and international TV businesses, for $52.4 billion in stock.

Movie assets that are now Disney-owned under 21st Century Fox include Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, homes of movies like Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shape of Water, and Gone Girl. Disney also now owns Fox's TV production companies including the previously mentioned Twentieth Century Fox Television, as well as FX Productions and Fox21, which brought viewers shows like The Simpsons, This Is Us, and The Americans.


On the TV network and streaming side of things, Disney has also acquired FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India, Sky plc, Tata Sky, Endemol Shine Group, and most notably Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu. With this particular asset acquisition, Disney is now a majority shareholder of Hulu.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.

“We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”
According to Disney, all of these new assets will build on the company's "commitment to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment," as well as fuel Disney's ability to "create more appealing content." The company also references its intent to deliver a "more compelling" entertainment experience to Disney consumers "whenever and however" they choose.

Specifically, Disney said that the Fox assets will even accelerate its use of certain technologies, including the recently acquired BAMTech platform, which it aims to use for its solo-streaming service. The company said these advancements will create more ways for Disney storytellers to share content with audiences, while providing those audiences more choices for how they consume film and TV.

For these reasons, the company said that the newly announced Disney streaming service, ESPN service, and Hulu will all benefit from the Fox acquisition.
Bringing on board 21st Century Fox’s entertainment content and capabilities, along with its broad international footprint and a world-class team of managers and storytellers, will allow Disney to further its efforts to provide a more compelling entertainment experience through its direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings. This transaction will enable Disney’s recently announced Disney and ESPN-branded DTC offerings, as well as Hulu, to create more appealing and engaging experiences, delivering content, entertainment and sports to consumers around the world wherever and however they want to enjoy it.
Important assets being left out of the deal and staying with Fox include the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, and Big Ten Network. Immediately prior to the acquisition 21st Century Fox separated all of these assets out into a newly listed company and will spin off ownership among its shareholders.

There are plenty of more details about the Disney-Fox deal -- including the "reuniting" of X-men with Disney-owned Marvel -- which can be found in Disney's press release.

Tags: Disney, Fox

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Gets 4K Mention on iTunes, Suggesting Disney’s 4K Holdout May Be Ending

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has received a card on the iTunes Movies storefront that encourages users to watch the film in 4K HDR on the Apple TV 4K, suggesting that Disney's 4K video holdout on iTunes may end soon. The change comes after news in September that Disney would be the only major Hollywood studio not supporting 4K versions of its films on the iTunes Movies store, including Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars movies.

Right now, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 appears under the "Now Available to Rent" section of iTunes with a new "Watch It in 4K" card, but when you tap through to the movie's page it's still listed as HD-only as of writing. As such, the mention could be an error, or the first hint at more Marvel and other Disney movies imminently gaining 4K iTunes support.


Spider-Man: Homecoming is another Marvel Studios movie -- a studio which Disney owns -- that's in 4K HDR on iTunes, but it has been 4K since it released on the digital storefront in September due to the distribution rights of the film being owned by Sony, not Disney.

For now, it appears that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the only Disney-related film with a hint of having imminent 4K support on iTunes. Other newly released Disney films, including Cars 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, don't have mentions of 4K support anywhere on iTunes yet. Apple's 4K iTunes films are priced at the same point as HD versions -- $20 -- and if you previously owned the movie in HD, Apple automatically upgrades it to 4K HDR without requiring additional payment.

If Disney does begin a wider rollout of 4K support across its iTunes film catalogue, it will be joining 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal Pictures in backing the 4K video format on Apple devices.

(Thanks @vash_maxwell!)

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tags: Disney, Marvel
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Disney Streaming Service Will Be Priced ‘Substantially Below’ Netflix at Launch

During Disney's latest quarterly earnings call, company chairman and CEO Bob Iger mentioned that its upcoming, exclusive streaming service will have a monthly subscription cost at an amount that's "substantially below" the price of rival Netflix (via Seeking Alpha). Disney has been dropping tidbits about its upcoming 2019 streaming service over the past few weeks, but had not yet hinted at how much the service will cost subscribers.

Iger still hasn't provided the specific price point viewers can expect to pay to watch Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars films and TV shows on the unnamed service, but we now at least know Disney intends to undercut Netflix on pricing. Currently, Netflix's $9.99/month standard tier (with streaming on two screens at once) is set to begin increasing to $10.99/month for subscribers this fall and winter.

A few Disney films currently on Netflix

Of course, Netflix also has the basic $7.99/month plan (SD and only streaming on one screen at a time), so it's unclear which price point Iger may have been referring to. Iger did mention, however, that the Disney streaming service price will be reflective of the "fact that it will have substantially less volume" than Netflix when it launches. Disney sees this low price as a starting off point that will grow to "reflect the added volume" of content that is launched on the service in the future, similar to what Netflix is doing with its new $10.99/month price hike.
I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is. That is in part reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume. It'll have a lot of high quality because of the brands and the franchises that will be on it that we've talked about. But it'll simply launch with less volume, and the price will reflect that.

There's a gigantic potential Disney customer base out there that we're going to seek to attract with pricing that is commensurate with or that balances the quality of the brands and franchises that are in there, but also takes into account the volume. And that will give us an opportunity to grow in volume and to have the pricing over time reflect the added volume as this product ages.
After announcing the direct-to-consumer streaming service in August, speculation spread concerning whether or not Marvel and Star Wars would be getting their own unique streaming platforms. Disney eventually confirmed those two franchises would be integrated into the main service. In the new earnings call, the company mentioned some of the content will include four to five exclusive feature films each year and multiple original TV shows. The first set of shows will be a live action series based in the Star Wars universe, a High School Musical series, and a Monsters, Inc. series.

A report last week also mentioned Disney's interest in purchasing cable and movie assets owned by 21st Century Fox, which would include Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu. With Disney's current 30 percent stake, the company would become a majority shareholder and gain another area to expand it streaming capabilities to consumers. While the two companies are said to not currently be talking, neither has given up on the idea of making a deal and "pencils aren't down."

With the launch of the Disney service, the company will be removing all of its films and most of its TV shows from Netflix. It's still unclear when that will begin happening, but it might begin sometime in 2018, ahead of the new service's launch in 2019. Currently, subscribers to Netflix can watch Disney movies including Moana, Finding Dory, Doctor Strange, and much more, which will all disappear by 2019.

Tag: Disney

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Disney’s Expanded ‘Movies Anywhere’ Service Puts All Your Movie Content in One Place

Disney's free Movies Anywhere service is expanding thanks to partnerships with Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros, allowing customers who purchase movies from services like iTunes and Amazon Video to watch all of their content in one place using the Movies Anywhere apps.

Disney has been using Movies Anywhere for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm titles since 2014, but now the available content library has greatly expanded. The new Movies Anywhere service replaces the existing Disney version.


With a Movies Anywhere account, Movies Anywhere content purchased from Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu can be accessed the service. It can also be used for digital content that comes alongside physical copies of DVDs or Blu-Rays so long as they're from Disney or one of its partner studios.

There are Movies Anywhere apps for the Apple TV and iOS devices, and the service is limited to the United States at the current time.

While most movie studios are on board, allowing users to watch more than 7,300 titles, Paramount and Lionsgate have yet to sign up.

Users who sign up for Movies Anywhere and connect their accounts with one digital retailer can get access to Ice Age and Ghostbusters (2016) for free. With two accounts added to the service, users can also get access to Big Hero 6, Jason Bourne, and The Lego Movie at no cost.

Tags: iTunes, Disney

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Disney’s Expanded ‘Movies Anywhere’ Service Puts All Your Movie Content in One Place

Disney's free Movies Anywhere service is expanding thanks to partnerships with Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros, allowing customers who purchase movies from services like iTunes and Amazon Video to watch all of their content in one place using the Movies Anywhere apps.

Disney has been using Movies Anywhere for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm titles since 2014, but now the available content library has greatly expanded. The new Movies Anywhere service replaces the existing Disney version.


With a Movies Anywhere account, Movies Anywhere content purchased from Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu can be accessed the service. It can also be used for digital content that comes alongside physical copies of DVDs or Blu-Rays so long as they're from Disney or one of its partner studios.

There are Movies Anywhere apps for the Apple TV and iOS devices, and the service is limited to the United States at the current time.

While most movie studios are on board, allowing users to watch more than 7,300 titles, Paramount and Lionsgate have yet to sign up.

Users who sign up for Movies Anywhere and connect their accounts with one digital retailer can get access to Ice Age and Ghostbusters (2016) for free. With two accounts added to the service, users can also get access to Big Hero 6, Jason Bourne, and The Lego Movie at no cost.

Tags: iTunes, Disney

Discuss this article in our forums

Disney’s Expanded ‘Movies Anywhere’ Service Puts All Your Movie Content in One Place

Disney's free Movies Anywhere service is expanding thanks to partnerships with Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros, allowing customers who purchase movies from services like iTunes and Amazon Video to watch all of their content in one place using the Movies Anywhere apps.

Disney has been using Movies Anywhere for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm titles since 2014, but now the available content library has greatly expanded. The new Movies Anywhere service replaces the existing Disney version.


With a Movies Anywhere account, Movies Anywhere content purchased from Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu can be accessed the service. It can also be used for digital content that comes alongside physical copies of DVDs or Blu-Rays so long as they're from Disney or one of its partner studios.

There are Movies Anywhere apps for the Apple TV and iOS devices, and the service is limited to the United States at the current time.

While most movie studios are on board, allowing users to watch more than 7,300 titles, Paramount and Lionsgate have yet to sign up.

Users who sign up for Movies Anywhere and connect their accounts with one digital retailer can get access to Ice Age and Ghostbusters (2016) for free. With two accounts added to the service, users can also get access to Big Hero 6, Jason Bourne, and The Lego Movie at no cost.

Tags: iTunes, Disney

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Disney Is the Only Major Hollywood Studio Not Backing Apple’s Plan to Sell 4K Films at $20

Apple yesterday revealed the Apple TV 4K, a new set-top box that will bring all the features of the fourth-generation Apple TV, along with the ability to stream 4K HDR video content. This includes iTunes 4K movies, which the company confirmed will be sold for the same price as HD movies at $20 apiece. Users will even be able to gain access to 4K movies they've already purchased in HD at no extra charge.

When it made this announcement, Apple showed off a list of Hollywood studios during the keynote that will support 4K movies on iTunes at this price: 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal Pictures. In a new report today, The Wall Street Journal noted that the major absence among this list is Disney.

The one absence from Apple’s list of big studios selling movies in UHD is Disney. It wasn’t immediately clear why the company behind Star Wars and Marvel couldn’t reach an arrangement with Apple. It currently sells its films in 4K on other digital stores, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.‘s Vudu, for $24.99.

Disney’s absence is particularly notable given a longstanding close relationship between the two companies. Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger is on Apple’s board of directors and Disney was the first studio to sell television shows and movies on iTunes.
Apple is said to have made deals with these studios so that 4K films would not rise above $20, but a few weeks ago it was reported that some studios were vying for $25-$30 for each 4K movie on iTunes. It isn't currently clear why Disney films -- which include Marvel and Star Wars -- won't be available in 4K on iTunes, but the WSJ pointed out that Disney currently sells its films in 4K on apps like Vudu, but at a higher price of $24.99. If talks fell through with Apple, that price tag is likely the reason why.

Apple's negotiations with participating studios reportedly went down to the wire, ending just weeks ahead of the September 12 reveal of the Apple TV 4K. Some studios are also said to still be interested in offering movies on platforms like iTunes just weeks after they debut in theaters, suggesting time frames and prices like 17 days after a theatrical debut for $50, or four to six weeks from release for $30. These talks are still ongoing and it remains to be seen if Apple and iTunes would ultimately take part in such a feature.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: Disney
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Disney Confirms Upcoming Streaming Service Will Include Marvel and Star Wars Films

In early August, Disney revealed that it plans to pull all of its movies from Netflix and launch its own streaming service in 2019. Users were understandably curious as to which Disney-owned brands that might include, particularly once Disney CEO Bob Iger referenced the company's interest in potentially branching off Marvel and Star Wars into their own, separate streaming services.

Today, Iger cleared up any confusion by confirming Marvel and Star Wars films will be available on the upcoming Disney-branded streaming app (via Deadline). Current films in these franchises on Netflix -- like Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story -- will be removed from Netflix and arrive on the Disney platform when it launches in 2019. It's still unclear at what point between now and 2019 Disney will begin removing these films from Netflix.


Last month Reuters reported that Netflix was in "active discussions" with Disney to keep Marvel and Star Wars films on the popular streaming platform, but it appears those talks have now fallen through.
Films from Marvel and Star Wars that now go to Netflix will move to Disney’s planned ad-free direct-to-consumer streaming service, CEO Bob Iger said today at an investor gathering.

“We’re going to launch big, and we’re going to launch hot” by late 2019, he told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.
The outcome for Marvel and Star Wars TV shows was not specified, but Iger said that the Disney streaming app "will have the entire output of the studio — animation, live action and Disney including Pixar, Star Wars and all of the Marvel films,” potentially including television content. Right now, users can watch Marvel and Star Wars TV shows on Netflix including Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Last month Iger confirmed that Disney "has no plans" to remove any of the Netflix-owned and created Marvel series from the service, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher. These original Netflix shows were formed under a separate deal from the one created in 2012, meaning they'll continue to be Netflix original shows for the forseeable future. Iger said Disney is even potentially willing to license even more Marvel characters for future shows.

On the Disney branded side of things, the app will include four or five "mostly live action" original movies, as well as four or five original Disney TV shows. Besides the new content, the service will of course also house the company's back catalogue, spanning nearly 500 films, 7,000 episodes of television, and "thousands" of short films. Neither Disney nor Iger has mentioned the subscription cost for the service yet, but the CEO said a price will be coming "in the months ahead."


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Disney Announces AR Scavenger Hunt for ‘Force Friday II’, Some Star Wars Toys Coming to Apple Stores

Two years after the original "Force Friday" launched in celebration of new toys and gadgets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney is now gearing up for "Force Friday II," which will see the launch of new merchandise centered on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Force Friday II will run September 1 through September 3, with toys being sold at Apple, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and more (via Reuters).

The items that will be at Apple retail locations have not yet been specified, but for the original Force Friday one of the most popular gadgets was Sphero's iPhone-controlled BB-8 droid, so there's a chance fans could see a similar toy launch next week. Force Friday II officially begins at 12:01 a.m. PT on Sept. 1, with more than 20,000 retail locations in 30 countries joining in on the Star Wars merchandise celebration, ahead of the debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December.


Further enhancing the toy hunt this year is a new augmented reality experience for fans shopping during Force Friday II. Anyone who downloads the official Star Wars app for iOS [Direct Link] or Android devices will be able to scan select retail standees that have a "Find the Force" logo printed on them. When scanned, fans will activate and unlock various Star Wars characters, which they can then take pictures and videos with, post on social media, and unlock that character's data chip.


The more data chips collected, the more users will earn exclusive digital rewards, including Star Wars video clips and character emoji. Disney has shared a full list of retailers [PDF] that will have Find the Force AR logos for fans to interact with, and even some websites will have the logo for those who do their Force Friday II shopping online. Although Apple will be selling some Star Wars toys for the event, the company isn't listed as a retailer participating in the AR scavenger hunt.

Augmented reality has become an increasingly popular trend over the past year, and is expected to see an uptick in usage on iPhone devices running iOS 11 this fall, thanks to Apple's ARKit. The new developer platform allows developers to create iOS apps with advanced augmented reality features using the built-in camera, processors, and motion sensors found in iPhone and iPad. Ahead of the public launch of iOS 11, we've already seen some pretty interesting proof-of-concept demos for the technology, including AR apps for turn-by-turn directions, measuring tape, and furniture placement.


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Disney May Split Out Star Wars and Marvel Into Standalone Streaming Services

During its quarterly earnings report yesterday, Disney revealed that it plans to remove all of its content from Netflix and debut a streaming service of its own in 2019. The announcement didn't make clear which exact Disney-related pieces of content might be found within that service, but more information from the earnings report has been shared today by TechCrunch, with Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioning Marvel and Star Wars could get their own streaming services down the line.

This means that the 2019 service would be related to Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar films like Lilo and Stitch, Zootopia, Moana, and Finding Dory (all of which are on Netflix right now). Then, the company would debut a Marvel service for movies and television shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a Lucasfilm service for properties in the Star Wars universe.


Disney is said to be "considering" these services right now, but a decision "is not yet set in stone."
According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the company is still considering how it wants to bring Marvel and LucasFilm titles to consumers. There’s been talk of launching proprietary Marvel and Star Wars services, he said on Disney’s earnings call on Thursday. But that decision is not yet set in stone.

“We’re mindful of the volume of product that would go into those services, and we want to be careful about that,” Iger explained.
Currently, Netflix subscribers can watch a number of shows and movies from these Disney-owned brands, including Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Iger mentioned that he and the company have also considered adding Marvel and Star Wars content into the new Disney streaming service. What's stopping this from happening is that they aren't sure that it would be "the right place for them [Marvel/Star Wars properties]," because of a potential lack of overlap between Disney and Pixar fans, and Marvel or Star Wars fans.

The Disney service will reportedly have enough content of its own, with the company's vast back catalogue of films and tv shows, early access to upcoming releases like Toy Story 4, and exclusive new original content.

According to Iger, if these Marvel and Star Wars services do happen, a Disney-created Marvel streaming platform will not interfere with the company's multiyear deal with Netflix, which has resulted in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the upcoming team-up show The Defenders, as well as The Punisher. These original Netflix shows were formed under a separate deal from the one created in 2012, which will see Disney films leave Netflix ahead of the 2019 streaming service's launch.

Because of this, Disney "has no plans" to remove any of these original Marvel TV shows from Netflix, and Iger said that Disney is potentially willing to license even more Marvel characters to Netflix in the future.


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