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 the question has been who would be a possible buyer. Now Bank of America says ESPN is likely worth $24 billion, and some of the likely buyers include Apple along with Verizon, according to a report from Reuters.
Both Verizon and Apple could see a deal with ESPN as a way to drive up subscribers to Apple TV+ or Verizon’s plans.
Apple and Verizon are not the only reported buyers. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal the NBA and NFL could also be interested in buying part of ESPN. The deal would offer their games to be aired on ESPN in exchange for a small share of ESPN. Exactly how much the NBA and NFL would own of ESPN is unknown. These talks are reportedly still in the early stages, and anything could happen with them.
According to CNBC, the talks with the NFL could include Disney taking a stake in the NFL Network, NFL.com, and RedZone. This could help both sides benefit by giving the NFL access to ESPN productions and Disney access to NFL money. The Wall Street Journal also added that the NFL+ service could be a part of this deal with Disney.
The NBA is also reportedly looking at including the NBA League Pass package as part of this deal.
Disney currently owns 80% of ESPN, and Hearst owns 20%. Disney could easily sell part of ESPN to the NFL and NBA and still own a controlling majority of ESPN.
Disney reportedly is looking for partners that can help with the launch of its direct-to-consumer streaming service for ESPN. All of these reported possible buyers could offer something to help Disney do that. spots leagues have the content the network needs and tech companies like Apple or Verizon can bring in resources needed to make the services a success.
For now, we will have to wait and see what happens. Now that ESPN is building its own direct-to-consumer streaming service, it clearly is looking for partners to help make that a reality.