What Does Disney Own? Disney Companies In A Nutshell

Disney was founded by brothers Walt and Roy Disney in 1923 as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. From humble premises in suburban Los Angeles, the company established itself as a pioneer in the American animation industry during the 1980s. Since then, Disney has diversified into television, theme parks, live-action film production, streaming media, consumer products, and publishing. Today, The Walt Disney Company is a sizeable corporate enterprise and media empire.

Subsidiary / BrandBusiness CategoryKey DifferentiatorIntegration Strategy
Disney+Streaming and On-Demand ContentDisney’s exclusive streaming service.Represents Disney’s entry into the streaming market, offering a digital platform for its vast content library and original programming.
Disney ChannelCable and Satellite TelevisionFamily-oriented entertainment network.Provides a dedicated channel for Disney’s content and serves as a key distribution platform for Disney’s television shows and movies.
LucasfilmFilm and EntertainmentCreator of the “Star Wars” franchise.Acquired for its iconic “Star Wars” universe, contributing to Disney’s film and merchandise portfolio, including theme park attractions.
MarvelFilm, Comics, and EntertainmentHome to popular superhero franchises.Offers a wide range of superhero content, driving box office success, merchandise sales, and theme park attractions.
PixarAnimation and Film ProductionRenowned for groundbreaking animated films.Enhances Disney’s animation capabilities, produces hit films, and contributes to the company’s family-friendly image.
ESPNSports Media and BroadcastingLeading sports network with diverse programming.Adds sports content and live events to Disney’s media offerings, attracting sports enthusiasts and viewers.
ABCTelevision BroadcastingMajor television network with various shows.Strengthens Disney’s presence in the broadcast television industry, airing a wide range of programming and news.
National GeographicMedia and ExplorationRenowned for educational and documentary content.Offers educational and nature-focused programming, aligning with Disney’s commitment to educational content.
HuluStreaming and On-Demand ContentStreaming platform with a diverse content library.Provides a platform for Disney to offer a broader range of content, including mature and acquired content.
20th Century StudiosFilm Production and DistributionHome to a vast library of films and franchises.Expands Disney’s film library and content creation capabilities, contributing to the overall content portfolio.
Disney Parks, Experiences, and ProductsTheme Parks and Consumer ProductsIconic theme parks, resorts, and merchandise.Creates immersive experiences and merchandise inspired by Disney’s intellectual properties, promoting brand loyalty.
Disney Cruise LineCruise VacationsFamily-friendly cruise vacations.Extends the Disney experience to cruise vacations, providing themed cruises and entertainment.
Disney Interactive StudiosVideo Games and Interactive MediaDevelops video games based on Disney franchises.Enhances Disney’s presence in the gaming industry and leverages popular characters in interactive media.
Disney Theatrical GroupTheater ProductionsProduces Broadway and theatrical shows.Expands Disney’s reach into live entertainment, bringing Disney stories to the stage and connecting with theater audiences.

21st Century Fox

Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in 2019 for $71 billion. Through the acquisition, Disney became the owner of 20th Century Fox film and television studios. The company also secured cable networks such as FX and National Geographic and a 30% controlling interest in Hulu LLC.

Many saw the 21st Century Fox acquisition is crucial to Disney’s plans in meeting increased consumer demand for streaming and other media content.

Capital Cities/ABC

Perhaps more significant than the acquisition of 21st Century Fox was Disney’s acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC in 1995. Indeed, the $19 billion merger was the second-largest corporate takeover at the time, bringing together two juggernauts of the media and family entertainment industries.

Importantly, the deal allowed Disney to become the first such company with a major presence in the four key distribution systems of broadcasting, telephone, cable television, and entertainment. 

Among other assets, Disney became the owner of The History Channel, Lifetime Television, and A&E Network. Part-ownership in sports channel ESPN also allowed the company to expand its overseas reach.


Steve Jobs created Pixar after the legendary entrepreneur bought the computer animation division from Lucasfilm in 1986. Under his leadership, Pixar created iconic movies such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

After acquiring Pixar in 2006, Disney has released several more iconic films including Cars, Ratatouille, and several Toy Story sequels.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

When Disney purchased Lucasfilm Ltd. in October 2012, many Star Wars fans thought the company would destroy the brand George Lucas had created. 

Similar to its acquisition of Pixar, however, Disney managed to successfully carry on the Star Wars franchise without alienating fans. It has also incorporated the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises into several branded theme parks and resorts.

Steamboat Ventures

Founded in 2000, Steamboat Ventures was named after the 1928 Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie.

Steamboat Ventures enables Disney to invest in early growth stage companies pursuing opportunities at the intersection of the technology, media, and consumer sectors.

Some of the more recognizable investments include Photobucket, GoPro, EdgeCast, and Elemental Technologies. Steamboat Ventures also has interests in several Chinese social media and gaming companies.

Key takeaways:

  • Disney was founded by brothers Walt and Roy Disney in 1923. From humble beginnings in suburban Los Angeles, the company is now a vast media and corporate empire.
  • Disney acquired Capital Cities/ABC in 1995 and 21st Century Fox in 2019. These high-profile acquisitions gave the company ownership of various television stations and cable networks and enabled it to meet growing consumer demand around streaming content.
  • Disney expanded into animated and non-animated film production after purchasing Pixar and Lucasfilm. Through Steamboat Ventures, Disney also invests in early-stage growth companies.

Key Highlights

  • Founding and Evolution: Disney was founded in 1923 by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. It began as an animation studio and gradually expanded into diverse areas including television, theme parks, film production, streaming media, consumer products, and publishing.
  • 21st Century Fox Acquisition: In 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox for $71 billion. This acquisition provided Disney with ownership of 20th Century Fox film and television studios, cable networks like FX and National Geographic, and a controlling interest in Hulu. It was seen as a move to address the increasing demand for streaming and media content.
  • Capital Cities/ABC Acquisition: The acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC in 1995 was a major milestone for Disney. This $19 billion merger allowed Disney to establish a significant presence in various distribution systems, including broadcasting, telephone, cable television, and entertainment. It brought together assets like The History Channel, Lifetime Television, and A&E Network.
  • Pixar Acquisition: Disney acquired Pixar in 2006, a company co-founded by Steve Jobs. Pixar was renowned for creating iconic animated films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. The acquisition led to the release of more beloved films like Cars, Ratatouille, and additional Toy Story sequels.
  • Lucasfilm Ltd. Acquisition: Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012, known for the Star Wars franchise, initially raised concerns among fans. However, Disney managed to continue the franchise’s success and integrated it into theme parks and resorts. The acquisition also included the Indiana Jones franchise.
  • Steamboat Ventures: Established in 2000, Steamboat Ventures is Disney’s venture capital arm. It invests in early growth stage companies operating at the intersection of technology, media, and consumer sectors. Some of its notable investments include Photobucket, GoPro, and interests in Chinese social media and gaming companies.

Read More: Walt Disney MethodWho Owns DisneyDisney SWOT AnalysisLessons Of Business Model Design By Walt Disney, Disney Competitors.

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Who Owns Disney

Disney’s main shareholders include Robert A. Iger, chief executive officer (CEO) of The Walt Disney Company between 2005-2020 and he returned as CEO by 2022. Other significant individual shareholders, as of 2022, comprise Susan E. Arnold, Christine M. McCarthy, and Alan N. Braverman. Main institutional investors include Blackrock Inc. with 6.4% and The Vanguard Group with 8%, respectively.

Disney Business Model

Disney’s business model revolves around creating sustainable, scalable brands based on Disney characters and stories.

Disney SWOT Analysis

It would be hard to argue for a more recognizable entertainment brand than Disney. Disney is, of course, synonymous with Walt Disney, but it was Walt and his brother Roy who started the company in 1923 in Burbank, California. Disney content is now broadcast on over 100 channels in 34 different languages across the globe.

Disney Revenue

The Walt Disney Company reported over $82 billion in revenues in 2022, compared to over $67 billion and over $65 billion in 2020.

Disney Profits


Disney Employees


Disney Subscribers


Disney vs. Netflix

By September 2022, Disney counted 235,7 million subscribers, whereas Netflix counted 223 million subscribers.

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