The Disney-Fox deal could result in FX becoming Disney’s answer to HBO. Maybe.
The big question for many casual observers of Disney’s December 2017 purchase of almost all of 21st Century Fox’s assets has been, “Why?” The answer, a bit disappointingly, lies somewhere between “Disney wants as much streaming content as it can possibly get, and Fox’s film and TV libraries are chock full of stuff” and “because Disney could.”
But it’s also worth looking at the individual Fox assets that Disney will end up owning, should the deal be finalized. (Regulators will have 12 to 18 months to approve or scuttle the deal.) While there are obvious areas where Fox and Disney overlap (like producing films featuring superheroes who originated in Marvel comics), there are also certain things Fox has that Disney doesn’t.
In particular, Disney has never been great at playing to either the prestige film or prestige TV market. No movie released under the Disney banner has won Best Picture at the Oscars (though former subsidiary Miramax won a few times). The company’s fleet of networks (headed up by ABC) have had some success at the Emmys in the comedy categories but lag far behind networks like HBO, Netflix, or FX at recent trophy ceremonies.
Certainly winning awards isn’t everything. But in the TV world, especially, having Emmys and critical acclaim often helps a show go from an obscurity to a staple of streaming services. (See: Mad Men and Breaking Bad.)
Did you notice how I mentioned FX above? Well, guess what cable network Disney just purchased.