If Disney sells ESPN, who will scoop them up?
The GIST: ESPN is a hot ticket item. After Disney expressed interest in selling an equity stake in the sports network a month ago, rumors of potential partners have swirled, with brands like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Verizon and even some sports leagues appearing as front-runners. Recent reports have indicated that Verizon and Apple are taking unique approaches to the situation — let’s dive in.
Verizon: The telecom company has reportedly been in talks with Disney about partnering on a new ESPN streaming service. Discussions also included Verizon potentially becoming a technology partner and offering a bundle deal similar to its Disney+ one. The more the merrier, we say!
Apple: On the other hand, Apple is rumored to have shifted interest from being a strategic partner to becoming a potential buyer. The tech company has already broken into the live streaming sports space, notably revolutionizing athlete contracts by signing with international soccer star Lionel Messi (a move that is already proving successful). A deal with sports giant ESPN could fast-track Apple to live sports dominance.
Zooming out: Live, direct-to-consumer streaming is the newest investment opportunity in sports, and companies are getting creative. In addition to trailblazing ideas, the space is allowing non-traditional partners to get their slice. If the unpredictability of this new frontier has taught us anything, it's to expect and assume nothing. Cue Ellie Goulding.