The Future. Amazon is reportedly in talks with Disney to take the available slice of ESPN that’s up for auction — part of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s plan to slim down Disney to its core assets and divest from the linear TV business. A team-up with Amazon could ensure ESPN stays the top player in sports exhibition, even in the streaming age when Apple and YouTube are competing for rights.
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Iger is scouting for a partner to take roughly 30% of ESPN (Disney owns 80% of the network, while Hearst Corp. owns 20%), worth an estimated $9 billion.
- Talks are ongoing, but an Amazon minority acquisition makes sense, considering how the streamer is trying to become more involved with sports.
- For Disney, it lessens competition with the tech giant (keep your friends close, but your enemies closer).
- It’ll likely also weaken the bargaining position of sports leagues (the FTC is going to have a field day with this deal).
But a deal hasn’t kicked off quite yet. Verizon and even the major sports leagues are all in discussions for a chance at streaming glory — ESPN remains one of Disney’s big moneymakers and could grow even more with its entrance into sports gambling.
And with the rumored ESPN+ price coming in between $20 and $35 per month (sports rights aren’t cheap, with Disney spending $10 billion annually), shared revenue could be massive if subscribers and advertisers rally for the service.