Disney’s Media and Entertainment Domination
When we think of Walt Disney, the first thing that usually comes to mind is an anthropomorphic mouse and a string of childhood memories. However, The Walt Disney Studios has grown to mammoth proportions in comparison to its humble beginnings inside the back office of a Los Angeles realty space, headed by a team (including Walt Disney himself, of course) that was formed in Kansas City, Mo., in the 1920s. Fast forward to 2018, and Disney now owns one-third of the entertainment industry. In its merger with Fox, Disney is set to own 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, FX and National Geographic’s television channels, Fox’s regional sports networks, and a 60 percent share of the streaming service Hulu.
As one of the largest mergers in the industry’s history, with its value being around $60 billion, this comes after Disney already acquired ABC and ESPN and while Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm are all brands owned and controlled by the studio giant. On top of that, Disney will also have significant control over most of the TV assets of Europe and India. While some superhero fans are excited at the merger, due to the prospect of their favorite franchises, most notably X-Men and The Avengers, finally colliding as they do in the comics, most media professionals have anxiety over what this deal means for the future of the industry.
For starters, $2 billion in job cuts are set to take place to downsize 20th Century Fox, leaving countless professionals without jobs. Second, this merger will make it nearly impossible for small- and medium-sized production companies to compete on a large scale with the way Disney is cornering the media market. Disney not only has an obscenely large share in film and television, the studio also plans to roll out two new online streaming platforms. One of those platforms, currently unnamed, will be a move to compete against Netflix.
In terms of the film industry, we are now down to only five major studios. With Disney’s foothold growing stronger, creators may be forced to conform to the studio’s movie and TV-making formula to have a job in this industry. In other words, we could be moving into an era where most of film and media arts are stifled by standards set by one company giant.
There’s a chance that the Justice Department will intervene and regulate Disney’s media control, however, according to USA Today, an investment banking analyst by the name of Vijay Jayant, stated that no regulatory concerns have arisen from the deal. Only time will tell how this merger will impact the media we consume.