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Disney open to selling equity stake in ESPN: CNBC Report

CEO Iger said he’s open to selling or spinning off Disney's cable networks, including FX, NatGeo, and ABC Networks.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has told CNBC that the company is open to potentially selling an equity stake in ESPN and is looking for a strategic partner in the business.

This move comes at a time when streaming is upending traditional streaming and Disney looks to transition the sports network to streaming.

He is certain about when ESPN will launch its complete direct-to-consumer offering, but declined to reveal when that will happen.

Iger’s comments, opines CNBC, about finding a strategic partner suggest he believes ESPN may function better in a streaming environment if paired with other companies’ sports content.

Disney currently owns 80% of ESPN. Hearst Communications owns the other 20%.

“The disruption of the traditional TV business is most notable. If anything, the disruption of that business has happened to a greater extent than even I was aware,” Bob Iger told CNBC.

In addition to finding a strategic partner for ESPN, Iger said he was open to selling or spinning off Disney’s legacy cable networks, including FX and NatGeo, and its broadcast group, ABC Networks. Iger said Disney would be “expansive” in its thinking about the legacy cable and broadcast assets, outside of ESPN.

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