Disney is buying a huge chunk of 21st Century Fox in a deal that promises to reshape the media industry and help the entertainment giant fend off digital rivals such as Netflix.
The $52.4 billion all-stock deal will combine two of the biggest players in Hollywood.
In addition to 21st Century Fox’s movie studio and regional sports networks, Disney is buying cable channels FX and National Geographic. Disney will also get Fox’s stakes in Hulu and European pay-TV provider Sky.
Prior to the deal closing, Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox broadcasting network, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and some national sports networks into a new company that will be spun off to its shareholders.
The sale to Disney represents a remarkable turn in the career of the octogenarian mogul, who is cashing out after building a major media empire.
Disney is adding even more prime entertainment assets to an already swollen portfolio as it battles upstart streaming services that have undercut the traditional cable subscription model.
Disney, which counts ESPN among its crown jewels, has suffered as consumers switch off their TVs and spend more hours watching streaming services such as Netflix that are distributed directly to consumers.
Bob Iger, who had been expected to retire, will remain as chairman and CEO of Disney through 2021.