Disney has made it clear that it’s sticking with ESPN — despite recent entreaties from a prominent investor to spin off the network.
At the company’s D23 Expo, Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicized ESPN’s sports betting efforts, claiming Disney is “working very hard” on developing an ESPN sports betting app.
Chapek characterized sports betting as important to Disney’s younger sports audience.
- “We believe that ESPN is an asset that is well placed within the Walt Disney company,” Chapek told Reuters.
- Amid spin-off rumors, Chapek said he’s received as many as 100 inquiries from interested parties, which “says something about its potential.”
“ESPN would have greater flexibility to pursue business initiatives that may be more difficult as part of Disney, such as sports betting,” Loeb wrote.
Now, Loeb appears to be walking back his comments, tweeting on Sunday, “We have a better understanding of ESPN’s potential as a standalone business,” and that he looks forward to seeing ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro “execute on the growth and innovation plans.”
Loeb — who bought a separate stake in Disney in 2020 but sold it earlier this year — also called for cost cuts, a revamped board of directors, and a faster Hulu takeover timeline in his letter.
Chapek said he has “regular conversations” with Loeb that are “very collaborative, non-antagonistic, and collegial.”