The purchase of Fox assets by Disney marks the first time in history that a major Hollywood studio bought out another. The world of film and film distribution is beginning to change even more quickly to counteract the huge impact streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have had.
The end game for Disney is to have enough high-demand content that they own to be able to produce their own streaming service. With the purchase of Fox assets, Disney now owns the majority of content on Hulu. What does this mean for the streaming service?
Amazon and Netflix have been producing their own original content for the past few years in order to give themselves an additional edge over competitors. Exclusivity still sells, which is why Disney creating their own service could be a major threat to streaming service that present Disney (and now Fox) titles. This is because it is more than just possible that Disney will pull their content from all streaming services and have them only available on a Disney streaming service.
What does all this mean for consumers and the film industry?
For consumers in the short term, this will generate competition between various streaming services. Prices will either decrease or remain low and additional “benefits” might be added (commercial free, etc). In the long term, however, if there are only a few services left standing, it could actually lead to higher prices and lower quality. Examples of this can be seen in the airline and telecommunication industries where only a small handful of companies hold majority market share.
A similar parallel could happen in the actual film industry. At the moment, filmmakers and actors have multiple pathways to being a part of a well distributed and financed production. In a few years, though, if this studio consolidation continues, there will be less places to work. If one were to look at the very beginning of the Hollywood studios industry, where there were only 2–3 major studios, you will see the type of environment we might be facing. This could lead to less jobs and less creativity in the work created.
You could very well argue that the world of today is much different than it used to be. The fact that we now live in a digital landscape and the existence of social media have fundamentally changed how we create, share, and consume content.
Perhaps we have nothing to be concerned about in terms of the future of the film and streaming service industries, perhaps we do. One thing is certain, that the next few years will be very interesting to watch.