I love Disney. Like nearly everyone born in the last thirty years, I was raised on their movies and TV shows. Travelling to Disneyland Paris is one of my best ever memories period, Phineas and Ferb was the show of my teenage years, and The Emperor’s New Groove may well be the best movie ever made. Their products have always been fantastic, and somehow still retain a magic that makes people of all ages feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.
However, Disney the company is becoming a scourge.
At the end of last month Disney finalised their takeover of 20th Century Fox, reducing the Hollywood Big 6 to the Big 5. With that move, the Walt Disney Company increased its percentage control of the American Entertainment Industry to 27%. That is an insane number. To put it another way, Disney are now over halfway to majority control of all entertainment, and that is simply not okay.
I am an out and out capitalist, and in general I am not too worried about big industries being dominated by big companies. It is a pretty natural process: companies with more advantages rise to the top and dwarf smaller competitors. However, there must be a certain number of big companies rivalling each other. Without this, without competition, the market stops working. The big top dog can outmuscle any remaining opponents by abusing its position, demand absurd prices from consumers because it is the only supplier, and buy out anybody who dares to challenge it. That is the reality of a monopoly, and it sucks. Laws in general prevent it now, but these symptoms can still rear their heads in certain situations. One such example is American broadband. In that industry, there are too few companies, and those that do exist are quite happy to work together and not compete, meaning prices remain high for pretty shoddy internet. Nobody is happy; except of course, for the companies themselves.
This is the situation Disney is getting dangerously close to creating in entertainment. They own everything from Star Wars to the Simpsons, Indiana Jones to The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The range of films and shows they own is just staggering. As things stand, there remains enough competition that Disney does still actually have to compete, but they are getting dangerously close to escaping that situation. We have to hope that the relevant laws function and prevent that from happening, because if it does; well, no amount of magic will stop Disney producing cheap and rubbish movies if there is literally nothing else to watch.