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Today is a day that is probably going to go down in the history of entertainment. Both Disney and Fox shareholders met to discuss the proposed merger, and the deal has now been approved by both sides. While it will still be some time before the two companies have truly merged together, that process can now get underway.
Both meetings took place concurrently at the New York Hilton so stockholders of both companies were voting at more or less the same moment to decide the fates of both companies. Both meetings were remarkably short considering what was at stake, lasting only a few minutes each. You'd think people weren't voting on one of the largest entertainment mergers in history.
The Walt Disney Company actually livestreamed the shareholders meeting so anybody could follow the proceedings. They were about as dry as you would expect a shareholders meeting to be, but the results were anything but dull. In a room where nearly 70% of Disney shareholders were present, representing over a billion share of stock, 99% of them voted in favor of the proposal, which was the issuance of stock as compensation for the merger between the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox.
The stockholder approval was one of the last major hurdles the deal needed to overcome since government regulators had already given approval to the merger. There's always the possibility that lawsuits could still be filed that could slow things down, but one way or another, this merger is moving forward.
The deal gives Disney control over the Fox TV and movie studios, as well as cable channels Nat Geo and FX, Fox's 30% holding in Hulu --which gives Disney a 60% majority share-- as well as a 39% share of European satellite company Sky. The deal was going to include Fox's collection of regional sports channels, but government regulators required Disney to divest themselves of those, so the company, who owns ESPN, would not have such a dominant position in the cable sports world.
Disney is spending $71.3 billion on the deal, a price they increased to fend off a competing bid by Comcast.
Nothing is changing overnight, but clearly, a lot will be changing in the months and years to come, and at every level of the industry. The biggest part of the deal for movie fans has been the fact that the deal returns the film rights to many Marvel characters back to the company, which paves the way for the integration of the X-Men universe into the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also could mean we may see many more Fox properties integrated into Disney's theme parks.
However, it also means there is less competition in the industry as a whole and Disney is now an even larger force in entertainment than they were previously. What exactly will they do with that power?