Apple Buying Disney Is a Possibility According to Some Anaylsts

The long-speculated Apple and Disney merger isn't an implausible fantasy these days, some say.

A sale of The Walt Disney Company to Apple is a possibility according to several analysts speaking to The Hollywood Reporter for a new report. The potential for the Apple-Disney merger has been bandied about for years, especially when Steve Jobs sat on the Disney board of directors, but it hasn't ever materialized and some executives still think it's an unlikely proposition. However, as tech companies continue to divvy up the entertainment industry to find content for their voracious streaming viewers to consume without digging too existing resources, the idea makes increasingly more sense. Disney CEO Bob Iger left the door open to such a merger in recent comments, although he suggested it's not currently part of his plans. One sign of things heading in that direction would be Disney shedding assets to make the company a leaner, more affordable buy for Apple, which brings up Iger recently noting the possible sale of Disney's linear television assets, such as ABC and FX.

If Iger does decide to sell Disney, Apple seems like the most likely buyer. The tech giant has the cash and needs content to fuel its Apple TV+ streaming service (Iger had sat on Apple's board of directors for years, but resigned on the day Apple announced its service, a clear competitor to Disney+).

There are obstacles to the sale. Getting the price right is one, and the government is the other. Under the Biden administration, the FTC and the Justice Department have been more active in seeking to play major corporate mergers, successfully stalling Paramount's sale of Simon and Shuster to Penguin Random House and unsuccessfully attempting to prevent Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard.

Both cases are relevant to legal issues that may come up in a suit against an Apple-Disney deal. In Simon and Shuster's case, the FTC won using a monopsony argument, stating that the merger would leave authors with too few options for where to sell their work. That same argument could be levied against a merger that offers fewer outlets for television and film distribution, though Disney could divest of some of the studio assets it obtained in its acquisition of 20th Century Fox to help combat that tactic.

The Microsoft case is more of interest in the matter because it's another case of a tech company buying a content producer, though in that case, it was video game content rather than streaming entertainment. However, this all may be moot if the theoretical deal is made under a Republican administration as the GOP has historically been more lenient when it comes to fighting corporate consolidation.

Some analysts are also not convinced about Disney moving in this direction, feeling that bringing back Iger as CEO and potentially shedding linear television assets are both signs that the Disney board is looking for long-term leadership and planning, not a quick sale. You can read the full analysis over at THR.