Ever since back in July 2023, in an interview with CNBC, Disney CEO Bob Iger left an option open to sell some of its TV assets, including ESPN, ABC, and more. Now we have a new report that Disney may have a buyer in mind for some of its networks, including Freeform and National Geographic.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney has completed its review of its cable networks and has decided which ones it wants to sell. According to this report, three networks are seen as the most profitable to Disney, including ABC, FX, and the Disney Channel. These channels produce a lot of content not just for cable TV but also for its streaming service, Disney+.
According to this report, Disney is considering selling some of its smaller networks, including Freeform and National Geographic to A+E Network. This deal will let Disney keep partial ownership of these networks as A+E Networks is already a joint effort between Disney and Hearst.
This sale would let Disney break free of the high costs of these networks and remove them from their books. At the same time, keeping the door open for any potential profits from these networks. This is very similar to what AT&T did by spinning off DIRECTV but still keeping a majority ownership.
A+E Networks is a 50/50 split between Disney and Hearst Communications. In the past A+E Networks was also owned by NBCUniversal, but they sold their share to Dinsey and Hearst in July of 2012. Hearst and Disney also share ownership of ESPN, with Hearst being a minority owner.
Excluding ESPN, Disney saw TV network revenue drop 9.1% in the 4th quarter of 2023. Cutting some unprofitable networks like Freeform could help Disney reduce these losses on its books.
No official announcement has been made for this possible sale.