The Disney Plus service is using Fox brands as part of its marketing. Disney's Fox acquisition is expected to be completed on January 1, 2019, but this is the first solid indication of just how smoothly the deal is proceeding.
In July this year, Disney and Fox shareholders voted to approve a $71.3 billion dollar deal that will see Disney purchase the bulk of Fox's film and TV empire. Domestic regulators signed off on the deal, and slowly international regulators are coming into line. Just two days ago, the European Commission gave it their seal of approval. While the acquisition is not yet complete, it's looking almost inevitable.
The latest indication comes from the official marketing for the new Disney streaming service. Disney has just confirmed that it will be called "Disney Plus," and they've immediately stressed the importance of five brands whose content will be on the service; Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. The last is particularly remarkable - because it's actually a Fox property. The site does contain a small disclaimer; "Subject to availability and closing 21CF transaction." However, this is still the very first time Disney has used a Fox property in their advertising, and so it's very much worthy of note.
The prestigious National Geographic Society was founded in 1888, and launched the award-winning National Geographic Magazine just nine months later. By the 21st century, it had embraced a wide range of different mediums, notably including the National Geographic channel. In 2015, the Society reorganized its media properties and publications into a new company, National Geographic Partners, with 21st Century Fox purchasing a controlling stake. As the Guardian reported, "The subsequent job losses have been characterized as the end of an era for the storied science magazine and its various appendages in other media." And yet, just a few years later, control of National Geographic Partners is being passed to Disney as part of the Fox deal - and the brand is clearly intended to be at the heart of Disney Plus, sitting alongside franchises like Marvel and Star Wars. The future is suddenly very bright indeed for National Geographic.
This is also the first solid indication that there will indeed be Fox content on Disney Plus. That had always seemed likely; it's generally believed one of the driving reasons for the deal was Disney's desire to get access to the 21st Century Fox Vault. It was seen as a way to increase the catalog and bring more content to the streaming service. But until now, that's simply been a matter of analysis from industry figures, never really confirmed. The use of the National Geographic brand changes everything; it's sure to leave viewers wondering just what other Fox properties will wind up on Disney Plus as well.