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Joe Nocera

Disney Will Rue Its Merger With Fox

The combined company will be tied to cable TV. And cable TV will die.
This isn't the future.

This isn't the future.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

So the rumblings were right: the Walt Disney Company is going to buy most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, just the latest megamerger in the rapidly consolidating media business. Disney is going to get Fox's movie studio, its 39-percent stake in the European satellite company Sky, its cable networks like FX and National Geographic, its regional sports channels and a majority ownership in the streaming service Hulu.

In the days before the deal was announced on Thursday, most of the analysis was practically euphoric. Daniel Ives, the head of technology research at the consulting firm GBH Insights, described it to clients as a "home run" that would create "a much more formidable Disney on both the content and streaming front for years to come." The New York Times said it "would supercharge Disney's global streaming-service ambitions, threaten to undercut Silicon Valley's entertainment aspirations and most likely prompt further consolidation in Hollywood." And Paul Sweeney, the U.S. director of research and senior media/internet analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said it would be "the defining legacy deal" for Disney's chief executive, Robert Iger. Indeed, Iger again extended his contract, this time to 2021, to oversee the ultimate deployment of the Fox assets.