Brazil Approves Disney/20th Century Fox Merger

Brazil regulators have approved The Walt Disney Co.’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film and related businesses — paving the way for consummation of the Hollywood mega-merger first announced in December 2017.

The slow-moving antitrust hurdle represented one of the last challenges to Disney’s merger with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment division.

Brazilian authorities sought and achieved Disney’s divesture of Fox Sports channel in the South American country. Disney also owns ESPN Brazil channel. Fox Sports owns rights to key soccer competitions in the region.

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A similar situation exists in the U.S. where the Justice Department ruled Disney has to sell off its stake in 22 regional Fox Sports channels since it owns ESPN.

European Union officials ordered Disney sell its European — not U.S. — stake in A&E Networks.

“Currently, there is only one big-screen rival capable of competing with these channels,” Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense said in a statement as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The agency said separating Fox Sports from Disney “aims to eliminate competitive concerns in the pay-TV sports channel market.”

Verizon Ups Video Content Rights From A+E Networks

Verizon and A+E Networks announced an expanded distribution partnership of both licensed and original content for the telecom’s pay-TV and Oath platform – the latter including Yahoo and AOL.

In addition to A&E, Lifetime, History and Viceland content for Fios, the deal includes first window rights for content from 45th & Dean – A+E’s digital entity.

Pay-TV and TV Everywhere rights include History’s “Knightfall,” which premiered Dec. 6; as well as “Vikings,” currently in its fifth season.

Other programs include Emmy-winning “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” and “Live PD;” Lifetime’s National Women’s Soccer League games and fashion competition series, “Project Runway;” in addition to Viceland’s “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia” and “Desus & Mero.”

Verizon’s mobile and digital footprint, which ranks No.1 in monthly U.S. millennial reach and No.2 in total monthly U.S. digital audience, will expand access to A+E’s digital content and create new mobile options for viewers across its family of media brands, including content geared toward women and other specific audience segments.

“This partnership expansion is yet another example of how we’re fueling our new Oath media brands,” Brian Angiolet, SVP, global chief media and content officer at Verizon, said in a statement.

Original mobile and digital content provided by 45th & Dean features short and medium-form content, including Frankenstein-themed sci-fi drama “Second Chance,” which reached over 80 million views in its first season, and unscripted pranks show, “Bae or Bail,” whose first episode has garnered over 40 million views to date.