National Geographic photographers will likely soon find themselves under the same parent company as Disneyland photographers. Disney is set to take ownership of the famous yellow-bordered magazine as part of its $52 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox.
Back in September 2015, 21st Century Fox inked a deal with the National Geographic Society that gave Fox a 73% controlling interest in the magazine in exchange for $725 million, an agreement that turned National Geographic into a for-profit company.
Two months later, National Geographic laid off 9% (about 180) of its 2,000 employees as it prepared for its new life as a Fox company. It was the largest headcount reduction in the 127-year history of the National Geographic Society.
National Geographic Society continues to own the remaining 27% of the partnership, called National Geographic Partners. As part of its new deal with Disney, Fox is including its 73% stake in National Geographic Partners.
National Geographic magazine currently has 40 local-language editions, ~3.5 subscribers in the US, ~6.5 million subscribers total, and a total reach of over 30 million adults around the world.
If the $52 billion deal gets US regulator approval — it will be closely scrutinized for anti-trust issues — National Geographic will be joining Disney’s ever-growing stable of well-known brands — assets that include Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and ABC.