Apple Has Some Competition, Disney Has Found Themselves a New Suitor

disney apple merger
Credit: Disney

In an interview with CNBC, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Disney would be looking for a “strategic partner” to help expand the brand and share some of the cost of high-priced items like ESPN’s professional sports rights. Analysts immediately pointed to Apple as the logical partner to pair with Disne for now, possibly buying the company down the road.

Disney and Apple together

Credit: Flickr: Emile Haddad Seattle/ Disney

But then, Iger brought back former-Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer, and with them, a new suitor emerged as a buyer for Disney. Staggs and Mayer are co-CEOs of Candel Media, which Blackstone owns. Blackstone managed over $1 trillion in assets and could purchase parts or all of the Walt Disney Company.

But now, a possible new suitor has emerged for that partnership, which already has deep ties with Disney and the money and network that Disney needs now.

According to a new report from Sahil Patel of The Information, Verizon has recently entered into talks with Disney about a strategic partnership centered around ESPN’s streaming service and the possibility of partnering with Disney on taking ESPN off cable to a streaming-only platform.

disney espn partners

Credit: Disney, ESPN; Walt Disney Television, Flickr

Patel’s sources tell him that Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has:

Made no secret of his openness to such an arrangement. He has shown interest in partnering with Disney on the distribution of a streaming version of ESPN earlier this summer. 

Verizon has over 92 million wireless customers and a previous relationship with Disney. Verizon offers Disney Plus for free to its customers for a year. A Verizon deal makes sense for Disney, as it would allow ESPN Plus and the Disney Plus/Hulu combination to be on the phones of every Verizon Wireless customer. That’s millions of new customers for Disney’s products.

Disney ESPN partnership

Credit: ESPN

Iger announced that prices would increase on the Disney Bundle by more than 20 percent monthly. Disney’s streaming service has been struggling with millions of existing subscribers closing their accounts. Declining viewership has also hit the Disney networks as more consumers cut the cord from cable.

A partnership with Verizon would help defray the costs of acquiring tv rights for professional and college sports, allow targeted advertising, and bring the Disney Bundle to every Verizon customer. Verizon also can connect Disney with every customer with an existing subscription to Fios TV. This partnership could have potential.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.


About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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