Disney : Monopoly Bloating, are their takeovers going too far?
Just mid-May of this year Disney announced that it had fully acquired Hulu and all its stocks. This arrangement will last for at least 5 years but even without it, Disney owns 60% percent of Hulu making it an effective owner either way.
This news comes just a couple months after the $71.3billion deal for Disney to buy out 21st Century Fox and everything that Fox has ever owned.
Seven years ago, Disney bought out Lucasfilm and all its assets ($4billion).
Three years before that Disney bought Marvel entertainment and all its assets (also $4billion).
And three years before that Disney buys out Pixar.
As things spiral onwards, Disney keeps becoming an ever-expanding behemoth, swallowing everything in its path in a never-ending binge of corporations. In America there are laws against the forming of monopolies (but these are all pretty crap, as long you don’t own ALL media companies you can technically say you don’t own a monopoly).
There aren’t any laws though that stop Disney from growing to a certain size. Right now, Disney owns 24% of all box office blockbusters and it isn’t that unfair to say they’ve definitely outgrown their size.
What creates fear isn’t that Disney necessarily have a hand in every major film, it’s the fact the no one is stopping them from doing this. And basic deduction suggests it will only get worse; as Disney start gaining profits from each and every studio, they’ll only keep getting more money to buy out more of the industry. On a creative level it means that things will grow stagnant, Disney don’t have to try as hard to make new and exciting products because their movies will be some of the only ones to watch anyway.
But outside of creativity it’s also wildly dangerous for people who want to work in film.
The Disney-Fox merger left a pink slip on the desk of 4000 people. With Disney crushing all competition it leaves those 4000 people in quite a struggle to find new work, and with Disney constantly reshuffling their corporate structure no one in Hollywood is ever left with real job security.
It’s often said that the free market is self-regulating – if you leave everything to itself then people will just be drawn to new and original innovation. In reality though, what happens is once someone gets a large enough grip on an industry, they can use their influence to keep themselves in absolute power. If some new studio were to arise and try grab a slice of Disney’s market share, they could easily just be bought out of existence. But even that is a difficult thought to fathom. Let’s be honest, Disney is already huge, is it even possible for someone to start up from nothing and grow to Disney like scale, whilst also not butting heads at any point?
Later this year Disney will release their streaming service Disney+ for families and children, whilst also keeping hold of Hulu as a means of distributing content for adults. As Disney engulfs the online streaming market, it’s important to remember that their end goal would be to do this for as many markets as possible, and as they get bigger there will be less that can be done to stop them. Like with many facets of corporations that grow too large and exploit their power, the way to stop isn’t by relying on unregulated capitalism. The free market tried that and has shown it encourages the existence of monopolies over a wider community of smaller studios.
It may seem like a tall order, but the Disney monopoly is a symptom of the world we live and can be found in much more than the entertainment industry. With stricter rules placed against corporations it will ensure that they exist on less intrusive terms, and ultimately be better for everyone.