Disney-Fox Notebook: Fox Looking To Keep Pace With Escalating Sports Rights Fees
In California, Tom Hoffarth wrote Disney's acquisition of Fox' RSNs allows Fox Sports, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network "to redirect resources into keeping pace with escalating rights fees for the NFL, MLB, college football and other sports it chooses to focus on nationally." Fox Exec Chair Rupert Murdoch's "pirouette at this pivotal moment seems to be giving ESPN reason to think it’s a force re-awakening" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/16).
MESHING THE TWO: In L.A., David Ng wrote the entertainment industry will be "waiting to see if Disney’s squeaky-clean image ends up clashing with Fox’s edgier aesthetic." While some experts "predict problems, others see a smoother transition, citing Disney’s track record of allowing multiple brands to flourish with relative autonomy" (L.A. TIMES, 12/16). Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger said that Hulu would "serve as the destination for more grown-up shows and movies that would be misfits on a more family oriented Disney service." In L.A., Pierson, James & Pierson noted as part of the Fox sale, Disney would "control the 20th Century Fox movie and television studio, which produces a bevy of material at odds" with the company's "squeaky clean reputation" (L.A. TIMES, 12/16).
DIGITAL PLAYERS: Murdoch said Facebook, Apple and Netflix are "all going to be big players" for sports rights in the near future. He "pointed out that Facebook tried to bid for the streaming rights to cricket matches earlier this year," though his Star media group "won out." Murdoch said of Facebook, "That was a warning shot. They've announced now they're going to spend billions on sports rights. So we don't know which country they'll go after or what they'll do" (MONEY.CNN.com, 12/15).
RALLYING THE TROOPS: 21st Century Fox President Peter Rice on Friday "shared a stage" with Fox Television Group co-Chairs & CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman and FX Networks CEO John Landgraf, where they "did their best to rally the troops." But what they "couldn’t do is proclaim their own job security." That uncertainty is "being felt in commissaries and executive suites throughout" the company (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/16). VARIETY's Cynthia Littleton reported the Disney-Fox deal may "lead to an industry-shaking redistribution of executive and creative talent." There are "ranks of seasoned executives at Fox and Disney/ABC who are nervous about their future." But this "flood is also hitting at a time when Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and other upstarts are beefing up their operations as they launch the push into the content business that drove Disney’s interest bolstering its engines by buying out Fox" (VARIETY.com, 12/16).