When last we heard, conversations around Disney’s intent to go after 21st Century Fox’s assets had gone cold, but a new report from the Wall Street Journal says those talks have started up again. Meanwhile, Comcast is still lurking in the wings and having similar conversations with the Murdoch-owned media giant.
The New York Times said that, according to two anonymous sources “briefed on the matter,” the Murdoch family, who still control Fox, are expected to make a decision on the sale by the end of the year.
The deal centers around Fox’s content-creation machine, including the 20th Century Fox movie studio, and networks like the U.S.-based FX and British and Indian-based networks Sky and Star. Fox would still have its news and television networks, as well as it cable sports channels. The Times notes that this highlights the difference in scale between companies like Disney and Fox. Fox has previously been seen as a buyer, but the scale at which Disney is operating is rewriting the rules. The company has to decide whether to try to scale up itself, or to change its strategy and let that aspect of its business go.
While an acquisition would be a sprawling one with many effects, fans of some of Disney’s biggest properties have mostly been concerned with the X-Men characters Fox owns movie rights to, as well as the Fox-owned rights to the original Star Wars films. A purchase by Disney would put the X-Men and Avengers in the same house, and make the dream of an un-remastered Star Wars release something much closer to a reality. Meanwhile, it’d put the Walt Disney Company in charge of yet another huge segment of content.
The Times notes that the U.S. Justice Department is currently suing to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner for $85.4 billion, stating that a vertical merger, which unites a huge content creator and a huge distribution network, and that there’s some fear that those proceedings could block the sale. If Fox is keeping its broadcast networks, that might not be such a big element, but the inclusion of networks like FX mean it’s a real concern.
How this is going to shake out likely won’t come together completely for some time, but hey, we can still fantasize about a 4K remastered release of the CBS-Fox edition of the original Star Wars trilogy, right? I mean, that’s what I’ll be doing. You do you.