Disney might sell networks, find 'strategic partner' for ESPN

The Wall Street Journal says that Disney might look to selling its traditional network businesses, including ABC, and seek a ‘strategic partner’ for its ESPN assets.

I wonder what that will do to the ABC/ESPN alliance for sports programming and its gigabuck contracts?

Any buyer would be on the hook for its huge contracts, though they could obviously solicit partners as well.

The bigger issue is that Disney themselves through Iger’s new leadership, may be questioning the value of these properties and their corresponding financial commitments. Maybe their willingness to shell out enormous bucks for various league and /or conference rights may be curtailed .


Over did indicate that he’s open to selling a minority stake in ESPN to a strategic partner. I think he’s open to selling ABC outright. Tough times in the media business.

Go Cats

The issue I see is that if they sell ABC outright and then bring in a DIFFERENT partner for ESPN, that sets up a conflict as to who pays how much and who gets which games. But maybe the agreements with the conferences already spell that out clearly enough to forestall those conflict.

There was a note on ESPN yesterday that the ACC is looking to put some football and basketball games on CW as a way of increasing conference revenues.

Those games would replace games that currently air on regional sports networks and is a reaction to the difficulties those are experiencing. I doubt there is much additional revenue to the league as a result.

The ESPN article sort of implied that, but that seems inconsistent with the quote from Jim Phillips.

I think some shakeouts in sports programming are coming, the costs have gotten out of line with the revenue potential from advertisers.