With Comcast dropping out, Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox entertainment assets

Comcast has decided to stop its last-minute pursuit of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. This decision clears the way for Disney to acquire key parts of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and could force Disney to rethink its upcoming video streaming service, according to The Wall Street Journal

Once it wins regulatory approval, Disney’s newest assets will include Twentieth Century Fox film and TV studio, a controlling stake in the Hulu video streaming service, and international properties including Star India. The U.S. Justice Department has already supplied clearance for the acquisition.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

The cable giant’s withdrawal ends a high-stakes chess match among some of media’s most powerful players, as they position themselves for the decline of the U.S. pay TV industry and try to stock up on assets that could help them compete against streaming services like Netflix Inc.

From a video streaming standpoint, it will be interesting to see what Disney’s bigger stake in Hulu will mean to its upcoming video streaming service, first announced nearly a year ago.

At the time, the mouse house said it intended to end its major distribution deal with Netflix and pull all of its films from the service, including Disney and Pixar’s titles, by the end of 2018. Then next year, it expects to launch a direct-to-consumer video-streaming service that will include that content and likely more.

After completing its purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, Disney will own a majority stake in Hulu. Because of this, one has to wonder whether there’s still a reason to create a brand new service, especially if one of the goals is to compete against Netflix.

Disney will acquire Fox’s assets for around $70 billion.

Though Comcast is no longer pursuing Fox, it does plan to continue its push to acquire parts of European pay-TV giant Sky PLC. Fox already owns 39 percent of Sky and hopes to consolidate ownership.