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Disney continues hunt for ESPN partner

Nov 9, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed several transactions looming over the company after issuing earnings on Wednesday, including the future of sports network ESPN.

Why it matters: Disney's ability to manage the strategic moves it has in place is critical to reviving its struggling stock price.

Details: Regarding ESPN, Iger said that "we obviously are planning to take the direct-to-consumer basis, and we feel great about that.

  • "We believe we have the opportunity to strengthen that hand even more by bringing in one or two strategic partners that can add marketing support and technology support or possibly content support.
  • "We've been in discussions with a number of entities, and we don't have anything specific to tell you right now and you can expect us to elaborate more in the near future."
  • Amazon, YouTube and Apple are sensible partners for ESPN, according to one veteran media banker. Pro sports leagues have been mentioned as well.

Zoom in: Iger acknowledged the $8.6 billion check Disney is about to write to Comcast for its Hulu stake, a payment the CEO called a "floor price." That characterization nods to the likelihood that an appraisal process may decide that the value of the stake is even greater.

  • Iger said he expected the process "would be fair and objective."

Meanwhile, he noted that he'd had a call with Nelson Peltz, the co-founder of Trian and now one of the company's largest investors, who is agitating for changes at the company and for board seats.

  • Clearly he didn't want to talk much about it, saying that even with a call from Peltz, Iger doesn't have specifics on what the investor will ask for.
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