The film and TV landscape has changed rapidly in the past few years, with streaming increasingly becoming the dominant paradigm in the industry. Today's sealing of a deal between Disney and 21st Century Fox marks a bid by Disney to bolster its presence in the growing streaming wing of the industry. With the all-stock, $52.4 billion dollar acquisition of 21st Century Fox and its assets (including Hulu and major TV franchises like The Simpsons), the deal aims to hedge against a changing industry, one where traditional entities like Fox have faced an uncertain future as consumption of media, including movies, TV, and news have made new tech giants like Amazon and Netflix major players in the entertainment market, competing on a level with the formerly dominant Hollywood studios.
Will this new player in the streaming game change the way Netflix does business?
With its acquisition of mainstream outlets like Pixar and Marvel Studios in the past few years, Disney has shored up its presence in the theatrical market, which is increasingly dependent on a tent-pole release strategy, favoring big gambles on a few blockbusters over a formerly diversified portfolio of smaller films, and now the company is looking to get into the streaming game, potentially changing the way business is done.
What does this mean for indie filmmakers? While Netflix has created plenty of its own binge-able superhero fare, the company has also been very good to indie filmmakers, acquiring titles at festivals, as well as funding work from indie directors under its Netflix Originals banner. Disney's portfolio, which already includes blockbuster-generators like Pixar and Marvel Studios, now grows to include ownership in Hulu. Disney is set to roll-out its own streaming services in 2018-19, bolstered by hugely popular legacy content from 21st Century Fox. So the question becomes: will this new player in the streaming game change the way Netflix does business? As Netflix may now be forced to compete with a potential mega-streamer, will the company maintain its allegiance to indie film, or will its focus shift even further toward more mainstream content in order to compete with the Mouse?
The regulatory process will take close to 18 months, and while this deal was probably an inevitability in the new, streaming world, only time will tell what its ramifications will be for the indie world, as well as entertainment as a whole.