DISNEY’S FIVE MEGA DEALS At Least ONE Of These WILL HAPPEN In The Next 2 Years!

by 12.02.2022

While he may be waving away any deal talk, the incoming CEO built the company with a slew of splashy buys — Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, 21st Century Fox — and could have another big idea up his sleeve. Deals is really all that Bob Iger knows how to do.

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Bob Iger’s Disney Return: 5 Far-Fetched (or Are They?) Megadeal Scenarios
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/bob-iger-disney-hulu-espn-apple-1235271915/

DISNEY’S FIVE MEGA DEALS At Least ONE Of These WILL; HAPPEN In The Next 2 Years!

Since Nov. 21, when Disney revealed the shocking return of Bob Iger as CEO and the ouster of his chosen successor Bob Chapek from the role, the informed speculation rumor mill about the future of the Burbank-based entertainment giant has been in overdrive.

Iger, in a town hall with employees on Nov. 28, dismissed the idea that another megadeal is what’s driving this new era for the executive at Disney. “We have a great set of assets here,” Iger told staffers. “Nothing is forever, but I am very, very comfortable with each of the assets that we have,” he added, and specifically called the idea that Disney could sell out to Apple “pure speculation.”

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That hasn’t stopped Wall Street analysts, investors and longtime Disney observers to note that Iger has built Disney into what it is today with a series of big swing bets — Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006, Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012 and 21st Century Fox assets for $71.3 billion in 2019 — that have shored up its intellectual property edge among rivals.

As Hollywood is ushered into an era where seemingly unthinkable deals are now discussed as possibilities, here’s a survey on the reasoning for and against those bets.

Disney Sells to Apple
Why it makes sense: Disney+ is growing fast, but that’s been costly. Apple offers a quick fix with troves of cash to fuel Disney’s streaming ambitions. Disney would also gain access to more than a billion Apple devices where its content would be integrated and boosted. In return, the tech giant would acquire Hollywood’s biggest brand to complement Apple TV+, which has struggled to feature enough original content to compete. Plus, Iger has close ties to Apple, sitting on the company’s board from 2011 to 2019. He noted in his autobiography, “I believe that if Steve [Jobs] were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously.”

Why it doesn’t: Maybe it could make sense. But despite Department of Justice saber-rattling, it’s up in the air whether a sale to Apple would violate antitrust law, as Apple TV+ accounts for a minor share of the streaming market. If there was interest in a deal, the two sides could choose to bide time until a possibly better regulatory environment arrives post-Biden. Apple would also likely have to burn its cash reserves to make a deal happen, which may not be wise considering the recent downturn in the tech sector. Factor in the tech giant’s disinterest in stepping into the theme park business, there may not be enthusiasm for a deal on either side. — Winston Cho

Disney Sells Hulu to Comcast
Why it makes sense: Hulu would likely command a bidding war and high sale price from interested parties and help Disney raise some much-needed cash as the company seeks to cut costs. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has already champed at the bit in public for a Hulu acquisition, making statements describing Hulu as a “phenomenal business” that would trigger a “robust auction” from parties including Comcast if it went for sale. And with the pressure to improve NBCUniversal’s streaming business, where the Peacock streamer has failed to drive subscriptions, parent company Comcast could be willing to pay top dollar.

Why it doesn’t: Disney is already on track to buy out the remainder of Comcast’s 33 percent stake in Hulu by 2024 at a guaranteed sale price that values the streamer at $27.5 billion. Hulu, which has more subscribers than Disney+ in the U.S./Canada, attracts a more adult audience and drives the highest average-revenue-per-user of Disney’s streaming portfolio. As Disney’s streaming losses have grown to $1.5 billion, the company needs all the paying subscribers it can get. — J. Clara Chan

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