Bob Iger returned to the House of Mouse and immediately began making changes to how the parks are run, annual passes for guests, pricing structures, movies, television, and yes, even their owned properties. For Disney, and Iger especially, the need to stop bleeding is important.
Disney owns ESPN and ABC and it might be time to just get rid of them, should they be able to sell them off. ESPN has undergone a lot of changes over the last couple of years as the sports network has slashed contracts for even their highest profiled on-air talent.
Looking at ESPN specifically, it is surprising that the network has opted to keep some of the more outlandish personalities over some of the more respected. Without pointing out names, watching some of the college football analysts announce their departure has been sad compared to the laundry list of names that are staying and probably shouldn't.
Disney has had their hands and fingers in a lot of brands over the last decade. They have purchased Marvel and Star Wars brands as well as many others but those endeavors still produce money. Why? Because they can be theme park incorporated.
Star Wars is a big draw at Disney Parks and despite many feeling it is time for the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular to go at Hollywood Studios Orlando, it is a tie-in to the motion picture.
ESPN and ABC do not do that. Disney can only try and force more Bachelor and Bachelorette down our throats but do those really need to be a part of the Disney brand? Probably not.
ABC isn't featured on Disney Plus either. National Geographic, another Disney owned property is a big part of the streaming service but if ABC isn't part of it, what is the point? For many television viewers, streaming whether it is live or not, is a big part of their watching strategy.
The reality is neither is making Disney any money.
Bob Iger did say that they are looking at finding joint partners for some of their properties or even the possibility of off-loading some, like say ESPN and ABC. The question is will another company see the viability in doing so? If Disney was unable to make them successful, it may not be an easy selling point or in this case buying point, for someone else.
Regardless, the days of "cable" television programming is coming to an end. We are in the final years of cable TV service as we know it. ESPN charges cable providers a high amount of money to carry their programming but as more and more television viewers turn to streaming, cable subscriptions fall and eventually, cable providers will need to adapt and change as well and part of that will be lowering their overhead to carry certain networks.
Like ESPN where on-air talents are being force to leave, more and more consumers are turning away from their sets and cutting that cable. It may not be easy for Disney but it is time to make that change now or completely overhaul how ESPN and to a lesser degree ABC are run and operated.