Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox was primarily based on the decision to move forward with their own streaming service, Disney+. After a lengthy and complex legal process, The Walt Disney Company's purchase of Fox's entertainment assets was completed in March 2019 in a $71.3 billion deal.
Last week, Disney announced the streaming service will launch in North America on November 12 this year, and will be rolled out around the rest of the world over the next two years. By 2021, the streaming service will be a formidable rival for other streaming networks, most notably Netflix and Amazon Prime, airing new content as well as having access to the Disney back catalogue and the complete library of Fox assets.
In an interview with CNBC, Disney chief Bob Iger spoke about the decisions in the lead up to the acquisition, stating clearly that the reason this action was taken was based solely upon Disney’s plans to enter the streaming market:
"The opportunity to buy Fox first came up later that year. In fact, just a few months after the board approved us buying the majority share of BAMTech — which was done for one reason, to go into the direct-to-consumer business — Rupert and I sat down and talked about a transaction. We would not have done that transaction had we not decided to go in this direction. Because — if we hadn’t, we would have been looking at that business and through a traditional lens: ‘Oh, we’re buying TV channels. We’re buying more movie-making capability, et cetera.’ But by the time the acquisition opportunity came up, and we knew we were going in this space, we evaluated what we were buying through this new lens of: ‘Wow, what could National Geographic mean to us?’”
Iger continued by talking of the relationship that Disney has with its customer base that buys movie tickets, downloads films, visits their theme parks and takes their cruises, describing Disney+ as a way to tighten the relationship with them. And with content such as Disney feature films, the Star Wars franchise and films from Marvel Studios, and original content, including shows from the Star Wars universe, in addition to all of Fox’s assets, they will have a huge head start. But despite everything, Iger was keen to iterate that acquiring the likes of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and now Fox, was a way of staying true to the company's roots as well as protecting and growing its business interests, stating that great storytelling was and always will be a motivating factor for Disney, and that such storytelling will always be relevant and successful.
The launch of yet another major streaming service is proof indeed that the landscape is changing considerably when it comes to tv and movie services, and one which will no doubt have an impact on rival services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which are now becoming more than just streaming services, having ramped up their efforts to produce new content for their brands. With one of the world’s most iconic and successful media brands to compete with, the next two years will be one to watch when it comes to the future of streaming services worldwide.