When news of Disney’s acquisition of Fox first began circulating last December, we ran a deep dive into how this massive merger was likely driven more by Netflix than any desire for more box office dollars. Fast forward to today, with the acquisition’s official approval expected to arrive in the next few weeks, and that sentiment seems to have been confirmed.
“Disney’s acquisition of Fox isn’t about increasing market share in the theatrical marketplace. Disney already has that. It’s about their new streaming service, Disney+, and taking on Netflix, full stop. If you view this merger through that lens, it all makes sense,” an anonymously quoted rival studio head recently told Deadline.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has previously said that the Mouse House’s streaming service, Disney+, will cost less than Netflix when it arrives in 2019 due to the disparity in library size. However, with Fox’s properties added to its own splashy list of titles (if they wind up on the streaming platform, that is), Disney+ will have more than enough brand name awareness and franchise familiarity to threaten Netflix immediately.
“It gives a way for Disney to body slam Netflix as it launches its direct-to-consumer streaming to connect with younger people who wince at satellite and cable,” Eric Schiffer, CEO of The Patriarch Organization and chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Observer last year. “It keeps Disney aligned on the right side of the shift in ‘the force’ of millennial led shifts in media.”
In terms of exclusive content, Disney+ will house two live-action Star Wars TV series; several different Marvel limited series led by big-screen heroes like Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen); Pixar and Disney Animated originals such as a Monsters Inc. spinoff and Lady and the Tramp, as well as original live-action films. Throw in Fox’s back catalog of goodies—Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Simpsons—along with Disney’s own folder of existing content and you can see the endless possibilities now available to the Magic Kingdom. (Fox’s more adult-skewing content is expected to be re-routed to Hulu, which Disney will take a controlling stake in once its acquisition is approved).
“Our first priority is going to be reaching our core Disney fan,” Iger said of the streamer over the summer, according to Variety.
While Disney+ may never match the sheer volume of Netflix, it has the marquee franchise titles to generate equal amounts of buzz. With Fox’s library serving as a foundation, it also will never want for additional content. In short: Disney already dominates the annual box office competition; now it wants to pace the field in streaming as well.