Well-known US media businesses, Disney and Fox, are reported to be in discussions for Disney to purchase some key areas of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire. No official details are available as yet, however, sources suggest a deal could be announced as soon as next week.
Both Disney and Fox shares ended the US trading day in the red. Disney shares were 2.74% down at $107.22, while Twenty-First Century Fox shares closed 0.3% lower at $32.99.
Separate reports in November, suggested US cable provider Comcast had expressed its interest in Fox as an investment. Now, however, Disney has emerged as a probable buyer. According to a Reuters report, sources suggest Murdoch would prefer a deal including Disney shares.
Talks do appear to be ramping up. Reports earlier Tuesday, suggested Disney was interested in the following Fox assets: FX and National Geographic cable channels, Fox’s movie studio, it’s Star network in India and the Fox stake in European pay-TV provider Sky PLC.
Since then, however, its been suggested Disney is also interested in adding Fox’s regional US sports networks. That would likely mean a rebranding from Fox RSNs to ESPN Dallas, ESPN Chicago, etc.
Fox’s stake in Hulu, the third most popular online streaming service in the US, would also be part of the deal, according to CNBC.
When questioned on the potential deal Tuesday, Fox Chief Executive James Murdoch, who was speaking at the UBS Conference in New York, declined to comment.
”It’s always good to look at what’s going to create the most value for our shareholders,” Murdoch told his audience.
What does the deal mean for smaller media networks?
If the deal goes ahead - and right now there’s no real certainty either way – then it could be another nail in the coffin of smaller media businesses and providers.
Disney and Fox are both huge corporations with an international footprint. Yet, to further break into areas they may want to dominate, it’s likely they feel they need additional resources, already in place elsewhere.
This deal likely represents the key to do just that.