BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on Disney's deal for large part of Fox (all times local)
Rupert Murdoch says selling much of the 21st Century Fox entertainment businesses to Disney allows what remains of his family's business to focus on American news and sports.
Murdoch and his sons talked about the deal in a call with investors Thursday. He describes the move as a return to the company's lean and aggressive roots.
Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock, including film and television studios and cable and international TV businesses, as it tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business. The deal doesn't include the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network.
Murdoch, calling himself a "newsman with a competitive spirit," says Fox is "probably the strongest brand in all of television" and hasn't been hurt by losing some of its stars. He says the new company will be centered on live news and sports brands and the strength of the Fox network.
He says, "I know a lot of you are wondering, 'Why did the Murdochs come to such a momentous decision?' Are we retreating? Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment."
Disney CEO Robert Iger says he'll work with Fox CEO James Murdoch on integrating the two companies, but Iger doesn't know what Murdoch's role will be over the long term.
Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock, including film and television studios and cable and international TV businesses, as it tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business.
Iger told investors on a conference call Thursday that Murdoch will "be integral to helping us integrate these companies." After that, Iger says he will "continue to discuss with him whether there's a role for him here or not."
James Murdoch is the son of Rupert Murdoch, who built 21st Century Fox and News Corp. out of an inheritance from his father in Australia.
Rupert Murdoch has ostensibly already handed the reins over to a new generation at Fox. His son James is CEO, while his other son, Lachlan, like Rupert, has the title of executive chairman.
Disney CEO Bob Iger says its deal for a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox is a chance to combine some of the world's "most iconic" entertainment franchises.
The deal is a strong sign that the home of Mickey Mouse is serious about an upcoming streaming service to compete with Netflix. The Disney-branded service, expected in 2019, will have classic and upcoming movies from the studio, shows from Disney Channel, and the "Star Wars" and Marvel movies.
In an audio webcast Thursday to discuss the deal, Iger said some of the Fox properties will fit with that offering, including National Geographic and additional Marvel productions.
The service is driven by changes in how viewers watch TV and movies. While Disney has benefited from years of selling packaged channels such as ESPN through cable and satellite TV distributors, many viewers are ditching traditional TV and watching online instead. A streaming service lets Disney reach those viewers directly.
During the webcast, Iger said, "Creating a direct (to) consumer relationship is vital to the future of our media business and it is our highest priority."
Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger will remain in those roles until at least 2021 as part of the company's deal to acquire a large part of 21st Century Fox.
The Walt Disney Co. had announced in March an extension of his contract to July 2, 2019, ending any speculation that Iger would retire this year. Thursday's extension is driven by the $52.4 billion deal for Fox's film and television studios, cable and international TV businesses.
Orin Smith, lead independent director of Disney's board, says keeping Iger was key to "provide the vision and proven leadership required to successfully complete and integrate such a massive, complex undertaking."
During an appearance on "Good Morning America" on Disney-owned ABC, Iger said, "I've got one of the greatest jobs in the world ... This combination makes it even more exciting."
Disney has no obvious successor since Iger's heir apparent, COO Tom Staggs, left last year.
Since taking the top role in 2005, Iger has acquired Star Wars owner LucasFilm, Pixar and Marvel and driven improvements in Disney's consumer products and parks division, most recently with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in 2016.
Analysts say Disney's $52.4 billion deal to buy a large part of 21st Century Fox will put it in a better position to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
Paolo Pescatore of CCS Insight says that "even a giant like Disney has not been immune" to changes in how consumers watch TV shows and movies. The deal, he says, will give Disney greater control of all aspects of content, from creation to distribution. That would lead to greater sources of revenue.
Disney already has announced plans to create its own streaming service in 2019 to compete with Netflix. Disney will now be able to beef up that offering with additional video from Fox.
Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights, calls the announcement a "home run deal" for Disney, one that will give the company and its upcoming streaming service "a clear runway to gain market and mind share" from Netflix and others.
Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion deal, including film and television studios, cable and international TV businesses as it tries to meet competition from technology companies in the entertainment business.
Before the buyout, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.
The entertainment business is going through big changes. Tech companies are building video divisions. Advertisers are following consumer attention to the internet. And Disney is launching new streaming services, which could be helped with the addition of the Fox assets.
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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