Disney could soon own Sky

Disney's buyout of 21st Century Fox has wider implications for the UK.

Toby Melville / Reuters

Today, Disney announced its intention to buy 21st Century Fox for $52 billion. It's a colossal deal that gives the House of Mouse control over the X-Men, a number of TV channels and a majority stake in Hulu. For Brits, the acquisition has another implication: Disney could soon own Sky. That's because 21st Century Fox is trying to buy the TV provider for roughly £18.5 billion at the moment. The deal is in limbo, however, as the UK's Culture Secretary Karen Bradley mulls its potential impact on the media industry. Back in September, she referred the case to the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is expected to give a report in mid-2018.

21st Century Fox already has a 39 percent stake in Sky. Should the deal go through, that figure will go up to 100 percent. It's a big if, but were that to happen, Sky would join the multitude of assets that are currently in Disney's crosshairs. Of course, the Disney deal needs to be approved too — and it's not clear how long that will take (the consolidation of rights and media properties will likely raise some competition concerns.) But theoretically, if everything is green-lit, Disney will take ownership of Sky. What would that mean for the two businesses? For now, it's hard to say.

Here's how Disney described the possible team-up today:

"Sky is one of Europe's most successful pay television and creative enterprises with innovative and high-quality direct-to-consumer platforms, resonant brands and a strong and respected leadership team. 21st Century Fox remains fully committed to completing the current Sky offer and anticipates that, subject to the necessary regulatory consents, the transaction will close by June 30, 2018. Assuming 21st Century Fox completes its acquisition of Sky prior to closing of the transaction, The Walt Disney Company would assume full ownership of Sky, including the assumption of its outstanding debt, upon closing."

Would this mean a merging of Now TV and DisneyLife? Or a wealth of exclusive Disney content on Sky? For now, we can only speculate.