The banking giant Wells Fargo has made a 2023 forecast: that the Walt Disney Company, which has abruptly brought in former chief executive Bob Iger to reverse the slow decline of the company's woke leadership at the end of last year, will give up control of the television broadcasting networks ABC as well as ESPN.
Analysts at the Bank are anticipating the “big changes” Iger promised to implement will include the elimination of the television network and the sports channel on cable, both of which are losing subscribers, Fox Business Network reported.
“Spinning off the two networks is the best path forward and a probable late 2023 event, leaving the Walt Disney Company an attractive pure play intellectual property company,” FBN said in a statement.
If Iger does decide to make the decision, it won't be a huge shock to the industry, since Disney has been considering the idea for some time in the past.\
ESPN specifically is in a difficult spot in its planning in the near future. As Axios recently pointed out, ESPN ended 2021 with 76 million subscribers to its cable service; that was down 10 percent of the number that it saw in its 2020. Each year prior to 2021 the network had increased the amount of viewers.
A brighter side for the network's sports coverage is that ESPN+ grew 42 percent over 2021, FBN added. But that may not be enough to ensure it stays in the Disney portfolio.
Viewership on cable in general is declining and ESPN's future is uncertain.
As an indication of the time, ABC has lost the third place position in the ratings in the last year, as the cable news channel Fox News claimed the third highest number of viewers during primetime, according to a Forbes report.
This is a rare success for a cable company given that the three major television networks -ABC, NBC, and CBS were previously proud of being the kings of TV broadcasting.
Disney must make changes to stop its own slide, too. According to reports, Disney lost $123 billion in market share. The old media faces severe winds of change. Disney is likely to eliminate these outdated properties when it is confronted with its own financial challenges.