Tuesday October 3, 2023

Disney’s Iger Says He’s Open To Selling Major Assets, Stake in ESPN

  • Finding a strategic partner for ESPN among long list of potential shifts for Disney
  • Iger looking at virtually every corner of the business amid historic media disruption
Bob Iger of Disney
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October 3, 2023 | Podcast
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Disney CEO Bob Iger made the company’s strategy for his new contract term abundantly clear: Virtually everything within the company is now up for serious reevaluation.

Armed with a fresh extension through 2026, Iger told CNBC on Thursday he is open to a wide range of large-scale shifts at Disney — including selling part of ESPN to a strategic partner, shedding or spinning off other linear TV networks such as ABC and FX, purchasing the remaining Hulu equity it doesn’t already own, and even pulling back on its movie-production efforts.

The company is in the midst of shedding 7,000 jobs — about 3% of its global workforce — in a bid to reduce $5.5 billion in costs, a move highlighted by another round of cuts at ESPN. 

Historic levels of cord-cutting by consumers have greatly amplified Iger’s urgency, as nearly 28 million ESPN linear subscribers have left since 2011. Such issues have also compelled Disney to consider changes to its media business in India.

“The company is facing a lot of challenges, some of them self-inflicted,” Iger said. “We’ve gotten a lot done very quickly, significant cost reductions and significant realignment of the company. But we’re dealing head-on with some of our biggest challenges.”

Iger said he is still “bullish about sports” — unsurprisingly, given how live games dominate U.S. television ratings across all genres. But even there, he stressed discipline.

“It’s a business that we want to stay in, but we’re realistic,” he said.

ESPN declined to comment on Iger’s remarks to CNBC. 

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