Bob Iger is open to the idea of Disney dumping its TV assets. In a wide-ranging interview with CNBC, the CEO of the entertainment giant suggested he would be open to selling ABC and other holdings, saying Disney would be “expansive” with its thinking about the traditional TV business.
“They may not be core to Disney,” Iger said.
Iger has been bearish on TV for years, saying he felt “very pessimistic” about the traditional TV model when he left the company in 2021. Upon his return, he said he felt it was worse than he expected it to be.
Those troubles are likely to be exacerbated by the ongoing writers guild strike and a looming strike by Hollywood actors.
“The disruption of the traditional TV business is most notable,” he said. “If anything, the disruption of that business has happened to a greater extent than even I was aware.”
And while he’s not quite as pessimistic about the cable market, Iger signaled that changes could be coming to the company’s holdings there as well, saying Disney could be open to selling an equity stake in ESPN and is in the process of looking for a strategic partner in the business.
Disney has held preliminary conversations with companies that could extend the distribution and add content to an ESPN streaming service, he said, though declined to name those businesses. (Apple, Amazon and Google are likely candidates, as each holds rights to major sports franchises.) As for other cable holdings, such as FX or NatGeo, Disney is open to selling those or spinning them off as well.
Iger’s getting more bullish on streaming, though. After hinting earlier this year that it might sell its share in Hulu, Iger told CNBC that Disney now plans to acquire Comcast’s minority stake in the streaming service.
Iger was originally brought back to run Disney for a two-year period after the company’s board hastened the exit of former CEO Bob Chapek. Earlier this week, the company announced it would extend his contract by two years through 2026.