The Department of Justice has approved Disney bid to acquire 20th Century Fox's assets - albeit with a catch. Disney must "carve out Fox's regional sports networks over ESPN-related monopoly concerns," according to Deadline's report.
Disney's bid to acquire 20th Century Fox's movie and TV entertainment assets is now set at $71.3 Billion. Many investors had already expected that Fox's Regional Sports Network would be cut out of the deal, so this news from the DOJ shouldn't shakes things up too much.
Along with its decision, the DOJ also released this statement, regarding the sports division:
"American consumers have benefitted from head-to-head competition between Disney and Fox's cable sports programming that ultimately has prevented cable television subscription prices from rising even higher," said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. "Today's settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution."
With this response from the DOJ, the ball now bounces back to Comcast, which has been trying to torpedo Disney's deal and acquire 20th Century Fox for itself. According to the report, Comcast is still in the midst of trying to formulate a response to Disney's bid, so this little saga isn't done yet.
The deal has been an attractive prospect for Disney, which will be launching its own streaming service in the next year or so. 20th Century Fox's extensive library of TV and movie properties would be a goldmine in terms of helping Disney establish a full-fledged library of streaming content that could compete with Netflix or Hulu - but for superhero TV and movie fans, there's another appeal altogether.
If Disney gets hold of 20th Century Fox's assets, it will acquire rights to the last major Marvel Entertainment properties: the X-Men movie franchise, and the Fantastic Four movie franchise. With those back at Disney, Marvel Studios would be able to launch all sorts of new storylines and franchises, under a much wider tent of the Mavel Cinematic Universe. It's already been rumored that next year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix could be the end of Fox's X-Men movie saga, before the MCU reboot. Given where both the MCU and X-Men movie franchises are right now, getting the Fox and Disney deal done sooner before later would be a serious benefit to Marvel Studios, and the fandom.
We'll keep you updated on what progresses with the Disney and 20th Century Fox deal.