On Friday afternoon, reports broke that The Walt Disney Company is considering spinning off ESPN, its longtime subnetwork.
With multiple longterm TV contracts locked in for ESPN, Disney is reportedly weighing the benefits and “strategic rationale” of separating from the sports network as it transitions into a more streaming-based platform.
As of right now, this potential change is merely in the idea phase. But if Disney were to cut ties with ESPN, there would reportedly be a couple other major corporations waiting in the wings.
According to Friday’s reports from Dylan Byers of Puck News, soon-to-be WarnerDiscovery and Amazon both have “big ambitions in live sports” and would consider purchasing a stand-alone ESPN business in the future.
NEW @PuckNews: DISNEY is exploring whether or not there is a strategic rational for spinning off ESPN, two sources with knowledge of the matter tell me. “There are now conversations happening regularly at Disney about whether or not to spin off ESPN.” https://t.co/rHhFtRISeb
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) October 15, 2021
While ESPN has been extremely lucrative as part of the Disney conglomerate, it’s turning into a “zero-to-low-growth business” as content transitions over to the streaming world. A move over to one of these new corporations could be beneficial for the sports network as it looks to dip its toes into the ever-growing sports betting world.
Under the Disney umbrella, ESPN is limited in its reach into sports gambling.
As of right now, there’s no confirmation that this move is inevitable, but one former Disney executive reportedly said it would be “a dereliction of duty” to not explore the split as an option.