Disney finalises US$71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 20 March 2019

The Walt Disney Company has formalised its US$71 billion deal (AU$100bn) to acquire rival multinational media business 21st Century Fox, creating one of the world's largest media titans.

The deal, which took close to 18 months to close, will see Disney acquire Fox's vast portfolio of TV, film, production and digital assets including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, FX Productions, National Geographic Partners, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu and Endemol Shine Group.

The deal in Australia will primarily impact Endemol Shine Australia, which is responsible for the production of multiple local reality TV programs including Married at First Sight, MasterChef, Australian Ninja Warrior, Survivor and The Voice.

Disney stated that the acquisition will allow the business to provide more "high-quality content and entertainment options" to meet growing consumer demand.

The business will also use the deal to expand its international footprint and direct-to-consumer offerings, which will include ESPN+ and the company's own subscription video on demand (SVOD) service Disney+.

With the acquisition taking immediate effect, it remains unclear what impact this will have on agency relations between the two brands.

In Australia, 21st Century Fox's assets are mostly limited to 20th Century Fox Film Distributors and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Spark Foundry (formerly Blue 449) holds the media account for 20th Century Fox, while the Dentsu Aegis Network's bespoke team, Disney@DAN, manages all of Disney's services.

The 21st Century Fox global media review was been one of the longest-running pitches in recent times - at 18 months - probably owing to the fragmented nature of Murdoch's film and TV business.

Murdoch's media empire is primarily split into two major holding companies – News Corporation, which includes print assets across the world and pay TV interests in Australia, and 21st Century Fox, which includes subscription TV assets across the world (including Fox, BSkyB, National Geographic and Star) as well as the film studio and distributor, 20th Century Fox.

In August last year DAN retained the $18.2 million media buying and planning account for the Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand. 

It is unclear what this means for the now wholly-owned SVOD platform Hulu, which is currently unavailable to Australian users.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us—one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” The Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger said.

“Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

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