What's next for theme parks after the Disney/Fox deal?
The Walt Disney Company confirmed this morning
what everyone had been reporting early this week — that it will obtain the studio assets of 21st Century Fox. That means Disney gets control of Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Fox 2000, as well as their associated franchises, including Marvel's X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool as well as Avatar, The Simpsons, and Planet of the Apes, among others.
Disney also gets a bunch of cable and pay TV networks, including FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports' regional networks, as well as Fox Networks International, Star India, and Fox's share of Sky and Hulu. Fox will spin off Fox News, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, and Big Ten Network into a new company that Disney will not own.
So what does this mean for theme park fans? Disney already owns way more IP than it can get into its parks. Disney's development plans for major theme park attractions around the world are pretty much set through 2021, with major Marvel development plans for Disney California Adventure on deck immediately after that. Anything coming to the table from Fox would slot in after those projects... assuming that there's anything from Fox that Disney wishes to pursue in its theme parks.
Disney can't use X-Men and Fantastic Four at the Walt Disney World or Tokyo Disney Resorts due to Universal's licensing deal with Marvel. The Simpsons are off the table in the United States due to a Universal licensing deal, as well. Disney already has an Avatar land in Florida. What's left? Planet of the Apes offers some great world-building opportunities for a next-generation, immersive theme park land. But where would it fit within Disney's theme park portfolio? I don't know that Planet of the Apes hits a beat different enough from Star Wars and Avatar to cover any market space that those franchises don't already deliver to Disney.
As for animation, Fox's line-up is relatively weak. There's Ice Age, but do we really want to tempt Disney Animation with a Scrat/Olaf cross-over featurette to slap in front of the next Pixar flick? (Okay, actually, that might approach some Tommy Wiseau-levels of awesomeness.)
The biggest impact on the theme park industry, then, might not come from this deal... but from the next deal that this acquisition inspires. Today the U.S. Justice Department filed suit to stop the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, which owns the Warner Bros. studio. And the FCC just voted to end Net Neutrality, which means that ISPs can now choose which websites and services they will allow you to access.
Disney acquired Fox in large part to expand the library of content it could offer on its own Netflix-style streaming services. But Disney does not control an ISP, which means that in a post-Net Neutrality marketplace, it might find itself unable to reach any viewers with its new services, should AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal) decide to play hardball and favor their own associated content providers, instead.
The Disney/Fox deal and Net Neutrality decision will force other content providers to consider their position in the marketplace. Does Comcast make a play now for Warner Bros., if AT&T isn't going to get that studio? A Warner Bros./Universal deal has been rumored for years, only subsiding when AT&T made its play for Warner's parent company. Does Verizon make a play for National Amusements to get control of Viacom's Paramount Pictures and CBS? Or does someone try to buy Sony Pictures?
And when does Amazon, which is developing a huge studio presence and has an obvious, massive financial interest in maintaining open access to Internet users, decide to make a deal, too?
If the new, vertically-integrated business model for entertainment is ISP/movie studios/TV networks/streaming services/theme parks, then the industry is facing more mergers and acquisitions as companies look to re-position themselves along that model. Right now, Comcast is the only one there. But AT&T trying to get there, and Disney is bulking up, too. Theme parks — with their power to promote brand affinity and customer spending on affiliated franchises — will be a part of this.
We don't know exactly how just yet.
Go read Russell Meyer's comment in our
This really has nothing to do with expanding the Disney theme park universe, it's all about content and going head to head with Netflix, Amazon, etc. The ESPN problem also looms large in this decision. It will be interesting to see if the FCC blesses this and I can't understand why Disney would agree to a 2.5 Billion dollar payment to Fox if the deal doesn't go thru. Also can't quite square Disney's culture and political mindset (yes, Disney is political too!)with the one at Fox - even though they're not picking up Fox News, but still there is a disconnect. Iger's been good for Disney shareholders and the Board, but he's really just bought other properties. His legacy is almost that of a corporate raider more than a leader who is finding ways to take the company to the next level within it's own ranks and talent and creativity. Pixar, Lucasfilms, Marvel and now Fox...eventually everything anyone will know of Disney is from other people's portfolios.
As to robert's ISP, point. This may be a long term solution to that. My educated guess is right now, disney does not know whether how the rules of net neutrality will shake out. If net Neu is on, then disney can go 100 percent to strive to win the online streaming wars. If the net neu rules, go away and the ISP's attempt to get large amounts of money from them, for the large amount of data they stream to customers, Disney can later
I think the Net Neutrality rollback offers mostly positives for Disney/Fox moving forward. It certainly makes owning an ISP a much more favorable venture than before, but also would allow Disney to leverage its newly increased content library to get the best partnerships to deliver that content to the most users if they choose not to acquire an ISP. I think market forces will prevail, and the new Disney/Fox is in a much more powerful position now than it was not only before the announced merger but also prior to the Net Neutrality rollback.
Wouldn't Disney want to make a deal with Universal? Wouldn't Universal find it's in an untenable position with Disney owning so much of it's IP in their theme parks?
russell. i appreciate your comments. I occasionally stream both fox sports go and espn, both through a comcast cable tv subscription. Thing is ESPN streaming has very regular problems, with freezing requiring restarts and losing part of the game, in the process.
For market forces to pervailt hough, there needs to be a competitive market. Here in the Uk where I can choose dozens of ISPs, Market forces ensuring net neutrality might work - in the US where you have your phone co, your cable co, and maybe the local racing pigeon enthusiast, you don't have a competitive ISP market. I have no problem in believing that Adam Smith would have seen the ISP as being in the same place in the Information economy as the ports in his commidity based economies - Ports he believed should be a regulated monopoly and not subject to the whims of the free market.
But see Chad, that's exactly why rolling back net neutrality will work. Too many people in the US view internet access as a "utility". It's not, but because it was treated as such for so long, Americans have a hard time viewing internet access as anything but, and ISP have consolidated very much like regional utilities. With no net neutrality in the way, investing, improving, and owning an ISP now becomes a very lucrative proposition, and I think we'll see a number of new players enter the market. As it stands now, internet doesn't have to be delivered through wires where there are limited players because of invested infrastructure (Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast, etc...). Internet can be delivered wirelessly, and the FCC just recently auctioned a huge swath of bandwidth that is now in the hands of companies that can forge nationwide networks.
The problem as I see it is that much of the US has localized monopolies already concerning isp. In Huntington Beach I can choose form Time Warner or Satellite and that's it.
4 more years of Iger.
@Anton M Why would Universal would want to make a deal trading Simpsons for Marvel?
>>> With no net neutrality in the way, investing, improving, and owning an ISP now becomes a very lucrative proposition, and I think we'll see a number of new players enter the market.
I agree with Chad. Also, how do I sign up to get a real name on here?
The worldwide appeal of the Ice Age franchise makes it an nailed on certainty for Disney parks around the world. They will be added to the parades before the ink is dry. They have the 4th & 5th highest grossing films of all-time, and 3 in the top 12 with not a Disney or Pixar film in sight. Disney promote where they can get a return. It would actually fit in Animal Kingdom perfectly.
@86: "Why would Universal would want to make a deal trading Simpsons for Marvel? Uni doesn't pay a dime for the theme park license. At the moment it's a hot ip bringing them a ton of money."
Chad and or russell--please clarify something for me about net neutrality.
I predict Disney will unload some of it's new assets after the purchase. Namely Simpsons and Family Guy, which don't really fit the brand.
Dave, as far as the political perspective- I can't find the poll now but I read today that while support for net neutrality is nearly 90% among dems and independents, 75% of republicans support it too. Just another one of the countless examples of a major party selling out their own constituents.
This is a TREMENDOUS WIN for Disney and further solidifies Iger as one of the three great CEOs of The WDCo. Walt Disney, Eisner and Iger.
Throttling people's internet is the least of my concerns regarding net neutrality. If they do that, I'll cancel my Netflix subscription and just go to a redbox or something. The real danger here is that your ISP will be able to sell your browsing history without your consent. If Ajit Pai and his proponents think rolling it back is no big deal, then why not put concrete assurances in place to protect your constituents? Ajit Pai mocking net neutrality backers is proof that this about lining his own pockets at the expense of our citizens' privacy. Another fine example of Trump Era spoils system appointments that conflict with the aims of their department.
jeffery. represtfully. do you know who has all of our entire browsing histories? It's not comcast or ATT. It's google. How do you think, you browse for a product on a website. An then suddenly (like magic), there are ads for that type of product on some of the websites that you visit for the next several days. That is intentional.
I think the main reason there is no uproar with google is because anyone can use any search engine or email that they want. Most people choose Google for these things, but there is nothing to stop Internet users from avoiding Google should they choose to. Also, as extensive and creepy as Google's info grabbing methods can be, it is a trusted brand overall. ISPs, on the other hand have already built terrible reputatons and are all consistently ranked as the least trusted brands by consumers across all industries. It actually seems that now ISPs will have the ability to force you to a certain search engine or email, or at least charge you extra for using "out of network" search engines, this taking that freedom of choice
>>>Am i missing something? It seems to me, that net neutrality (in the average and aggragate), benefits richer than average people, and penalizes poorer households?
In a perfect world - Universal will get rid of the simpsons, which is trash. I don't just mean a re-brand either like it did in the past. Complete rebuild of the area. If Universal can purchase Warner Bros and get building on a DC land (work it out with Six Flags) and then sells the Marvel Rights to Disney (or keeps who cares really) then the consumer really wins!
Chad is correct. Net neutrality prevented the ISPs from charging extra based on what you were looking at. It had nothing to do with the amount of data you were using. Without net neutrality your phone company who has an agreement with Yahoo can give you fast speed searxh on yahoo, and then purposefully slow the connection with google. Or charge you more to access google.
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