Walt Disney Co. Chief Govt Bob Iger has employed two former lieutenants — Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer — as consultants to assist the corporate analyze strategic choices for ESPN, in response to an individual acquainted with the plans who was not approved to remark.
The previous Disney colleagues, who now run Los Angeles-based Candle Media, will work with ESPN Chief Jimmy Pitaro to judge strategic companions for the cable sports activities operation, the supply mentioned.
Each executives have deep ties in funding circles. Candle Media is backed by personal fairness agency Blackstone.
Disney intends to maintain ESPN, which has rights to the preferred sports activities leagues in America, in response to Iger. The sports activities behemoth continues to be vastly well-liked and worthwhile, however it faces important headwinds as a result of its main income stream is below menace as increasingly more shoppers ditch their cable and satellite tv for pc TV subscriptions in favor of streaming apps.
The sports activities juggernaut final month laid off roughly 20 high-profile commentators, together with former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and former NBA participant Jalen Rose.
Throughout an look on CNBC earlier this month, Iger mentioned the corporate was open to inviting in “strategic companions that might both assist us with distribution or content material” for ESPN.
Iger has acknowledged that ESPN finally shall be delivered on to shoppers, bypassing its longtime companions — the pay-TV corporations. Nonetheless, Iger stopped wanting asserting a timeline for that tectonic shift.
Pay-TV suppliers, together with DirecTV, Comcast Xfinity and Constitution Spectrum, pay stiff charges to distribute the ESPN channels to their prospects.
Greater than a decade in the past, ESPN was distributed in almost 100 million cable houses. Now, the primary ESPN channels are carried in about 70 million houses, and analysts count on the quantity to proceed to fall.
The streaming service ESPN+ has about 25 million subscribers, in response to the corporate.
Staggs and Mayer will proceed to run Candle Media, which incorporates Hi there Sunshine, the media firm launched by Reese Witherspoon; and Moonbug Leisure, which produces youngsters’s leisure.
Each have a deep familiarity with Disney’s enterprise. Staggs is the previous chief working officer, former chief monetary officer and former head of the Disney theme parks. Mayer, as chief technique officer, was a key architect of lots of the firm’s blockbuster offers.
Mayer oversaw the launch of the Disney+ streaming service in addition to the creation of ESPN+. He left the corporate in Might 2020, three months after Iger tapped Bob Chapek to succeed him as CEO.
After a 2½-year run, Chapek was compelled out in November, resulting in Iger’s return to run the corporate. Iger just lately signed a brand new deal that may preserve him at Disney via December 2026.
Iger had initially tapped Staggs in 2015 as his prime lieutenant in line to succeed him, however Staggs left the corporate the next yr after it turned clear that Iger wasn’t prepared to surrender the reins anytime quickly.
Disney’s hiring of Staggs and Mayer was first reported by the net information website Puck.