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What Companies Does Disney Own?
Disney has never stopped taking chances and now its portfolio now includes a range of famous entertainment companies as well as few surprises.
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5 minute read

The Walt Disney Company has influenced almost every facet of modern-day entertainment.

Founded by Walt Disney in 1923, the company commonly known as Disney has brought classic animated and live-action shows and movies to screens worldwide.

In 1955 the company took a risk to diversify its business and opened its first commercial theme park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. The venture was a success and eventually spawned a lineup of parks, including Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Disneyland Paris, and Shanghai Disney Resort.

Disney has never stopped taking chances, and now its portfolio includes a range of famous entertainment companies as well as a few surprises. Keep reading to discover some of the most significant companies that fall under the Disney umbrella.

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Marvel

Disney acquired the entertainment company and storied comic book publisher in 2009 for $4 billion to expand its catalog of intellectual property. Marvel, which dates back to 1939, is responsible for iconic superheroes like Spiderman, Capitan America, Iron Man, and countless others. In the decade after it bought Marvel, Disney has earned over $18 billion at the box office from Marvel Studios productions like The Avengers and Black Panther.

Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm was founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas in 1971 and was bought by Disney in 2012 for $4.05 billion. Lucasfilm is a film production company that also serves as the holding company for the intellectual property related to Lucas’s famous epic space opera and Indiana Jones. The company also includes Industrial Lights & Magic, a special effects division pioneering new storytelling mediums. Since acquiring Lucasfilm, Disney has created a new era of Star Wars movies, TV shows, and characters and recouped the money it spent on the company in just six years.

Hulu

Disney first invested in Hulu in 2009 and took majority control of the over-the-top (OTT) streaming service in 2019 after it acquired 21st Century Fox and its controlling stake. In addition, Disney agreed to buy Comcast’s stake to take complete control of Hulu as early as 2024. Hulu serves as Disney’s main competitor with other OTT streaming services like Netflix and complements its specialized streaming services like Disney+ and ESPN+. The service also offers live TV and currently has 43.8 million subscribers.

ABC

Disney bought the American Broadcasting Company, known as ABC, in 1995 for $19 billion. The acquisition gave Disney ownership of ABC’s eight owned-and-operated television stations and more than 232 affiliated stations across the US.

ESPN

Disney acquired an 80% stake in sports entertainment giant ESPN as a result of its blockbuster merger deal with ABC in 1995. Hearst owns the remaining 20% of the sports media conglomerate. In November 2021, Disney CEO Bob Chapman announced that the company would integrate sports betting into its streaming platform.

Pixar

Pixar got its start as part of the Lucasfilm’s Graphics Group in 1979 and was spun into its own company in 1986 with funding from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Disney first began collaborating with Pixar in 1999. Disney took control of the animation studio behind Toy Story in 2006 for approximately $7.4 billion. Later, then-CEO Bob Iger said he decided to buy Pixar when he attended the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland and realized that all characters in the parade created in the past ten years were made in partnership with Pixar. The deal made Steve Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder, with a 7% stake.

21st Century Fox

Disney initiated its $53 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2017. The deal was completed in 2019 and gave Disney ownership of FX, National Geographic, 20th Century Fox, Searchlight Pictures, and Star India. Assets including Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and Fox Sports were excluded from the deal and now make up the Fox Corporation. Disney was also able to re-acquire the film rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four for Marvel.

Muppets

In 2004, Disney purchased the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House from The Jim Henson Company. The deal fulfilled the wishes of Jim Henson, who had initially pursued acquisition talks with Disney before his death in 1990.

A&E

A&E is co-owned by Disney and the Hearst Corporation — each hold a 50% stake. In 2012, Disney and Hearst bought NBCUniversal’s 15% minority stake in A&E for $3 billion to become the TV network’s two sole owners. Disney’s Stake in A&E also means it owns 50% of The History Channel and Lifetime.

Vice Media

Disney has invested more than $400 million to acquire a roughly 9% stake in digital news and media company Vice Media. This investment comes on top of the 15% stake that Disney holds through A&E with Hearst. Disney acquired a further 6% stake in Vice after it bought 21st Century Fox.

Steamboat Ventures

Steamboat Ventures is Disney’s investment arm led by Managing Partner John Ball. The venture capital firm was founded in 2000 and is named after one of Disney’s earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons, Steamboat Willie, and invests in early- to mid-stage startups in the emerging digital media and consumer technology markets. Since its inception, Steamboat Ventures has made investments in major US and Chinese tech companies like GoPro and YY.

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