- While Disney seems to want some of 21st Century Fox's content assets primarily as part of its budding war with Netflix, don't forget about ad sales.
- The combined media entity would immediately boast a broader array of TV networks to sell to marketers, allowing it to command more clout in the market and deliver elaborate cross-network packages.
- Fox's ad team could also help nudge Disney ahead in data-driven ad sales, where it's fallen behind, ad buyers say.
Investors, commentators, and stakeholders alike are watching closely as Disney closes in on a deal to acquire a collection of valuable assets from 21st Century Fox — a deal that would alter the existing media landscape as we know it.
It would help Disney battle accelerated cord cutting, give it an even bigger repository of content, and help prepare it to take on Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
But less examined thus far is the fact that the merger would make Disney all the more attractive in the eyes of media buyers purchasing ads on behalf of marketers.
Disney is expected to snap up not only Fox's film and television studio but also cable channels including National Geographic and FX worth $8.7 billion. That represents a massive boost to Disney's TV advertising portfolio, whose cable-channel assets have been limited to Freeform and the very niche (and mostly ad-free) Disney Channel.
"From a cable point of view, Fox brings in rich assets in the form of FX and National Geographic, an area in which Disney has so far been limited," one TV ad buyer told Business Insider. "It sounds like a very synergistic compilation of companies and broadens its appeal to marketers."
Jason Maltby, the president and co-executive director of national broadcast at Mindshare, agreed, saying that Fox presented Disney with a much broader range of networks to sell to giant advertisers. "From a marketplace standpoint, fundamentally what this does is that it allows Disney to become a bigger player in the cable arena," he said.
The combined entity would also be able to provide advertisers more opportunities to purchase custom, complex ad packages that include a mix of TV and digital ads, said Jim Fosina, the founder and CEO of Fosina Marketing Group.
It also helps that the Disney-ABC TV Group reorganized earlier this year, laying the precedent for what comes ahead. The restructuring put ad sales for its entire portfolio, which includes ABC, Disney Channel, Freeform, and Radio Disney, under the company's sales chief, Rita Ferro. Buyers expect Fox's assets to be incorporated under Ferro as well.
"A consolidated Disney where they go to one place for all their needs is far more attractive to marketers," a TV ad buyer added. "A broader portfolio and reduced competition also allows Disney to attempt to garner a higher premium."
In other words, Disney could promise one-stop shopping and would set itself up to be one of the few big TV ad players left standing.
Ad buyers have been pushing for such streamlining for years, said Steven Piluso, the head of media and integration at Media Storm. He recalled having to go through numerous sales reps and silos within 21st Century Fox and News Corp, with it being common "to talk to eight to nine different reps to get a deal done." Consolidation is welcome, he said.
A combined arsenal of Disney-Fox assets might also enable marketers to chalk out larger-scale ad programs that could tap into Disney and Fox's intellectual property — and its data.
For example, recently the Nissan Rogue was promoted in conjunction with "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" across Disney's networks, stations, and shows like "Jimmy Kimmel Live" — even on ESPN, which is typically run independently. Campaigns like that could become bigger and more common.
"They have more leverage in the marketplace, more insight into how budgets are allocated, and, ultimately, a tighter grip on the future," Mindshare's Maltby said.
That grip could be strengthened by more data. Advertisers have increasingly pushed the TV industry to embrace elements of digital advertising — in terms of audience targeting using data and software — an area where Disney has been seen as lagging.
Fox recently formed a consortium with Turner and Viacom to launch OpenAP — through which advertisers can mix and match data sets to be used for ad targeting on multiple TV networks.
The deal could bring Disney into that fold.
"Until this point, Disney could not have played in behavioral marketing," Maltby said. "This really gives them the opportunity to play in that space and go beyond targeting based on gender and age and do it based on purchase behavior."