Disney is one step closer to having the rights back to the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool franchises, in addition to the vast majority of Fox's media assets. U.S. antitrust regulators have approved Disney's $71 billion offer for 21st Century Fox's media assets, meaning that the deal is much closer to being done. It still has to go through approval in many countries overseas and there are a lot of other moving parts, but this is a major step in the right direction for Disney.
The deal between Fox and Disney was initially agreed upon and announced last December, but it's taken quite a bit of time to put it together behind the scenes. Comcast recently countered Disney's initial offer, valued at $52.4 billion, with a $65 billion all-cash offer. That prompted a bit of a bidding war, with the Mouse House quickly coming back with their new $71 billion bid, which is a mix of stock and cash. While Comcast could still try and submit a higher counteroffer, reports are stating that Disney and Fox are preparing to go ahead with the deal now that they've won approval from regulators in the U.S. But there is a catch for Disney.
21st Century Fox is selling all of their movie studio 20th Century Fox, FX, National Geographic, their stake in Hulu, their stake in international broadcaster Sky and 22 regional sports networks. Regulators approved the merger on the condition that Disney sells off those regional sports networks. Disney already owns ESPN and regulators feel that if they also own all of those various networks they would have too much of a stronghold in sports broadcasting.
For Disney, the sports networks probably were low on their list of priorities. This deal is a long play for the future and is largely about streaming. They will gain a majority stake in Hulu and this will give them a massive boost of library content for their upcoming streaming service, which is set to launch next year. It will also give them a ton of new potential franchises to mine for content. Fanboys and fangirls have been particularly interested in the lingering Marvel character rights that Fox owns. Assuming the deal is approved elsewhere that it's needed, Marvel Studios will ultimately be in control of the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, which is something fans have wanted to see happen for a very long time.
This approval comes shortly after the AT&T merger with Time Warner was approved by a federal judge, paving the way for future, similar mergers. The media landscape is set to change in a major way. Disney purchasing Fox is easily going to be one of the biggest shifts the entertainment industry has ever seen, presenting a mixed bag of positive change and negative consequences. But hey, on the surface, it's cool to think that we may see Professor X palling around with Black Panther, right? This news comes to us courtesy of CNBC.