Disney is currently reassessing its television networks to determine which ones are core to the company's future. The review comes as Disney CEO Bob Iger looks to cut costs by $7.5 billion. The traditional TV networks, including ABC, FX, and National Geographic, have experienced viewership declines as streaming becomes more popular. As part of the review, Disney has explored potential sales and discussed placing some of its TV networks into its joint venture with Hearst, A+E Networks. So far, ABC, Disney Channel, and FX have been identified as the channels with the most value to Disney, as they produce content that is popular on Disney's streaming platforms, Disney+ and Hulu. Other assets, such as Freeform and the National Geographic channel, are deemed less critical to Disney's future.
Disney Entertainment Co-Chairman Dana Walden and President of Networks and Television Business Operations, Debra O'Connell, are leading the review. They are seeking cost savings and greater efficiency across networks and ABC's local stations. Some of Disney's recent moves, such as the new distribution agreement with Charter Communications, have aligned with the findings of the review. Disney allowed Charter to drop channels, including Freeform, Disney XD, and FXX.
One option that Disney has discussed internally is merging certain channels with its existing joint venture with Hearst, A+E Networks. This move could potentially help the joint venture negotiate better deals with cable companies and advertisers. Additionally, Disney is seeking a strategic partner for ESPN and has had discussions with sports leagues such as the NBA and NFL. The company is also working on transitioning ESPN to a streaming future.
Overall, Disney's review of its television networks aims to identify opportunities to cut costs and improve the business. While the company is considering various strategic options for each network, including potential sales and mergers, Iger has emphasized the importance of considering the strategic value of the networks to the company, not just their financial value.