Disney closes Fox takeover, forging a Hollywood monster to take on Netflix

The biggest traditional media company in the world will swell bigger still, as it girds itself to battle streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon and -- soon -- Apple.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

Disney can just sub in X-Men to replace all the dead Avengers now, no?

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

It may not get a dramatic trailer drop, but it's still one of the most highly-anticipated climaxes in Hollywood.

Disney, the largest traditional media company in the world, closed its takeover of major parts of fellow Hollywood giant 21st Century Fox late Tuesday. It marks the companies officially becoming one a year after they first reached an agreement to merge in what would become a $71.3 billion deal.

It finalizes one of the most eye-popping examples of Hollywood going to extreme lengths to fortify against competition from digital powerhouses like Netflix, Amazon and -- soon -- Apple. Those deep-pocketed companies have been pouring money into making their own TV shows and movies. The streaming services' low monthly rates have fueled TV cord-cutting and, in Netflix's case, tried to upend theatrical-release norms for movies -- all threats to how companies like Disney and Fox make money.

Watch this: Apple will finally reveal its $1 billion-budget TV service

Crucially, the Fox takeover will be complete ahead of Disney's planned launch of its own Netflix-like streaming service later this year, called Disney+. Disney CEO Bob Iger has called the streaming service the company's "biggest priority" for 2019. Adding Fox will bring Disney an even bigger library of high-profile content to feed into its service.

Fox is home to blockbuster franchises like X-Men, DeadpoolKingsmen and Planet of the Apes; animated films like Ice Age; and TV assets like The Simpsons as well as edgy network FX. The deal covers the 21st Century Fox film and television studios, as well as a cable group that comprises FX, National Geographic, 300-plus international channels and 22 regional sports networks.

The agreement also includes broadcasting giant Sky in the UK and Europe. 

The deal hands Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu over to Disney, essentially doubling Disney's ownership and giving Hulu a majority stakeholder for the first time in its decade-plus history. Comcast's NBCUniversal continues to hold 30 percent and AT&T's WarnerMedia holds the remaining 10 percent.

Disney's merger with Fox follows AT&T's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, the parent company of HBO, CNN, Warner Bros. and others. AT&T cleared the last regulatory uncertainty lingering over its Time Warner takeover earlier this year.

Originally published at 4:10 p.m. PT. 
Updated at 9:05 p.m. PT: With deal officially closing. 

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