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Why Disney Could Dominate the Streaming Business

News Analysis
Disney’s purchase today of much of Fox’s assets could make the company the most dominant force in streaming, both live and subscription Video on Demand.

The deal, if approved by the feds (and it says here it will be), will give Disney control of Fox’s 22 regional sports channels in addition to the company’s current suite of ESPN channels.

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Disney has said it plans to launch an ESPN-branded live streaming service sometime in the spring of 2018. When the Fox properties come on board, the new online service will have access to an abundance of exclusive content that few sports fans will be able to resist.

For instance, on any given night, the online ESPN could offer a pivotal baseball game from one of the Fox RSNs as well as a high-profile event scheduled for one of the ESPN networks.

But Disney didn’t just buy more sports with the Fox deal. The company will also get Fox’s share of Hulu, which offers both subscription Video on Demand and a live streaming service.

Until now, Hulu’s ownership was split four ways — Disney, Comcast and Fox each had 30 percent while Time Warner had 10. But the deal will give Disney majority ownership of Hulu, which should allow the company to use the streaming service to further its corporate goals in a number of ways.

Disney, of course, has been preparing for this day for some time. The company recently decided to pull its movies from Netflix, starting in 2019, just about the time that the Fox deal will likely be approved by the feds.

With greater control of Hulu, and the launch of two new streaming services (sports and entertainment), Disney will be in position to put a serious dent in Netflix’s subscription totals.

Netflix of late has been the big dog in the streaming world. But Disney will soon be the big Fox (pun intended), ready to steal market share wherever and whenever it desires.

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— Phillip Swann