Listen Now - The Newsroom Episode 2: MiLB Unionization and the Rise of Youth Athletes

Disney CFO Shuts Down Suggestion of ESPN Spinoff

  • Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said the company likes "the hand we have with ESPN."
  • An activist investor recently called on Disney to spin off the sports network.
Disney-ESPN
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Disney isn’t interested in letting ESPN go anytime soon.

When Daniel Loeb’s Third Point increased its stake in Disney last month, the activist investor sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek calling on him to spin off the sports network.

“ESPN would have greater flexibility to pursue business initiatives that may be more difficult as part of Disney, such as sports betting,” Loeb wrote.

On Wednesday, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said the company likes “the hand we have with ESPN.”

  • McCarthy added that Disney’s teams are always looking for  alternatives “where we would be better off doing something different.” 
  • She said Disney sees “ESPN as being part of our overall portfolio.”

Prior to Loeb’s comments — which also called for cost cuts, a revamped board of directors, and a faster Hulu takeover timeline — outlets reported that Disney was considering a spinoff, but had abandoned the idea.

Disney recently reported $21.5 billion in third-quarter revenue.

A Big Gamble

Whether or not Disney would spin off ESPN, sports betting seems to be in the company’s current discussions. Chapek said in Disney’s last earnings call that the Mouse was in talks with sportsbooks about integrating betting opportunities during sports broadcasts.

“Our sports fans that are under 30 absolutely require this type of utility,” Chapek said.