Disney TV Going Away Forever?

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

disney tv
The Disney Channel is just one of Disney’s TV holdings

CNBC reports Disney is looking to sell off much of its television empire, ending a legacy that’s almost three-quarters of a century in the making. Disney‘s collection of TV channels include ABC, The Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN, and ESPN 2.

Disney is looking to unload many of its TV assets, including The Disney Channel, ABC, ESPN, and more.

Disney might have started at the movie theater, but Mickey and Co. have been a big part of television for over 70 years. In the decades since Walt Disney himself aired the first Disney TV special on Christmas Day, 1950, the company has amassed a collection of channels.

It was Disney CEO Bob Iger who announced earlier this morning that he would be open to selling Disney’s traditional TV assets in order to go all in on streaming and digital offerings.

“After coming back, I realized the company is facing a lot of challenges, some of them self-inflicted,” Iger said in regard to multiple problems Disney is currently dealing with.

The most pressing business in terms of righting the Disney ship, according to Iger, is assessing the company’s portfolio of TV networks in order to determine which ones to sell and which ones to keep—if any.

“They may not be core to Disney,” Iger said of networks such as ABC before confusing the matter by pointing out that the creativity from those very same networks has been “key” for Disney. As far as ESPN goes, Iger is content to sell an equity stake in the Disney-owned sports TV franchise to a “strategic business partner” that would help transition the brand to a streaming-only model.

Currently, Disney has been holding off from putting its prime ESPN content on streaming service ESPN+ due to the billions of dollars it still makes every year through traditional Cable TV—something Iger expects to change to change sooner rather than later.

“The disruption of the traditional TV business is most notable,” Iger told CNBC, stressing that the “disruption” of the traditional television business model is happening to a “greater extent than even I was aware.” Indeed, one of the biggest tasks giving to Iger upon his return to Disney was to somehow make Disney’s streaming business profitable.

After coming back, I realized the company is facing a lot of challenges, some of them self-inflicted.

Disney CEO Bob Iger

While the company as a whole made a profit last quarter, it suffered a loss of 4 million Disney+ subscribers, a loss the company had to offset with price increases.

Disney’s Plans For Hulu

In an attempt to beef up Disney+, Iger oversaw the recent edition of previously Hulu-exclusive content to the streaming service, such as adult fare like 2016’s Deadpool and 2017’s Logan, both of which are R-rated. Iger sees better Hulu integration as an essential part of Disney’s transition from TV to streaming-only.

Logan is one of the more adult oriented movies that can now be streamed on Disney+

The CEO even suggested that Disney, who currently owns 66 percent of Hulu, would be open to buying the remaining 35 percent from current owner Comcast.

Disney, Iger concluded, is “better off having Hulu,” and added that by the end of the calendar year, a Hulu and Disney+ offering would be available to consumers.”The combination of those apps is designed to obviously help the [streaming] business become profitable,” Iger said.

In the meantime, Disney’s traditional TV offerings remain in limbo. While Iger announced the plan to eventually move ESPN to a streaming-only model and possibly sell broadcast giant ABC, the fate of Disney’s actual Disney-branded cable channels remains unclear.

We can only assume the Disney Channel and its cable brothers and sisters will eventually be absorbed by Disney+, but no official statement has been made.