NEW YORK (AP) — Disney is buying the Murdoch family’s Fox movie and television studios and some cable and international TV businesses for about $52.4 billion, as the home of Mickey Mouse tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business.
Disney’s all-stock deal for 21st Century Fox gives it the studios that produce the Avatar movies, “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family,” though Murdoch will form a new company to keep the U.S. television networks, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and Fox Broadcasting. “The Simpsons” will continue to air on Murdoch’s Fox stations. The deal also brings Marvel characters such as X-Men and The Avengers under one roof — Disney’s.
Murdoch’s new company will get national rights to Major League Baseball, the NFL, NASCAR and college sports through the Fox TV network and cable networks FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network. Disney is getting Fox’s regional sports networks, including the Yes Network showing the New York Yankees.
In owning these properties, Disney will be in a better position to compete with the likes of Netflix when it launches ESPN- and Disney-branded streaming services in the coming years.
That Rupert Murdoch and his sons were willing to sell off much of the business that has been built up over decades came as a shock to the entertainment industry.
Murdoch, who built a global media and entertainment empire out of an inheritance from his father in Australia, said what remains of his family’s business will be able to focus on American news and sports. During a call with investors Thursday, Murdoch and his sons described the move as a return to the company’s lean and aggressive roots.
The deal — announced Thursday on the eve of a major “Star Wars” movie release from Disney — comes as the entertainment business goes through big changes. TV doesn’t have a monopoly on home entertainment anymore. There’s Netflix, which is spending up to $8 billion on programming next year. Amazon is building its own library, having splashed out on global TV rights to “Lord of the Rings.” Facebook, Google and Apple are also investing in video.
As consumers spend more time online, TV’s share of U.S. ad spending is shrinking. Advertisers are following consumer attention to the internet, where Google and Facebook win the vast majority of advertisers’ dollars.
To combat this trend, Disney is launching its own streaming services. It…