Disney ‘in talks’ to sell ABC Network and its local TV stations to broadcaster Nextstar, which owns NewsNation
- Disney reportedly held preliminary discussions about selling ABC Network to Nexstar Media
- CEO Bob Iger said in July that the company might sell some television assets.
- Some industry observers believe his end goal is a sale of Disney itself.
Disney has held exploratory discussions about selling the ABC network and regional television stations to Nexstar Media Group, the local station operator that owns NewsNation, according to multiple reports Thursday.
The discussions come after Disney CEO Bob Iger said in July that the company might sell some of its traditional television assets, which have struggled for years due to the rise of streaming services.
Two sources confirmed the discussions to Reuters, with one saying Nexstar’s interest was preliminary and could not lead to any deal.
Disney’s ABC includes a national television network and eight regional channels. It also has affiliation agreements with approximately 240 local television stations that reach almost every American household.
Nexstar has 200 owned or partnered stations in 116 markets reaching more than two-thirds of the U.S. population, as well as national television networks such as CW and NewsNation. Its market value is $5.25 billion.
Disney has held exploratory discussions about selling the ABC network and regional television stations to Nexstar Media Group. Disney CEO Bob Iger is seen above
Nexstar and Disney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bloomberg Newswho first reported that the two companies were in talks for an ABC deal, said media mogul Byron Allen, who owns several television networks, had also held discussions with Disney.
Disney shares rose 1 percent, while Nexstar shares jumped nearly 6 percent.
Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner agreed to buy Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion in 1995.
In July, Iger suggested during a CNBC interview that the company’s television business, including its stations and cable channels, “may not be core to Disney.”
His remarks sparked a frenzy of activity among bankers and private equity players, who began evaluating whether they should “take action”, one banker told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It sends a signal to investors,” the banker said. “It makes people think.”
Disney’s ABC includes a national television network and eight regional channels. The station’s most popular shows include American Idol
In July, Iger suggested during a CNBC interview that the company’s television business, including its cable channels and channels, “may not be core to Disney.”
Iger fueled this speculation during Disney’s third-quarter earnings conference call, when he said the company was mulling strategic partnerships for its marquee sports brand, ESPN, and had received a ” significant interest”, even though Disney planned to retain control.
Iger said the three businesses that will generate the most growth over the next five years are the company’s movie studios, theme parks and streaming video.
Some executives speculated that Iger’s end goal would be a sale of Disney itself.
To make it attractive to only those potential buyers big enough to stomach a Disney – Apple or Alphabet’s Google – Iger would have to reduce Disney to only parties that preserve its global intellectual property portfolio, while separating its legacy cash-generating businesses like LA TV.
“There’s no way a FAANG company is going to buy out their company when they own all these cable channels, a broadcast network and a cable sports network,” the executive said, using an acronym for the five major American technology companies, Facebook (now Meta), Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google.
“It’s not their job, and it’s unlikely the government will ever allow it.”