Activist investor Dan Loeb backs Call for Disney to sell ESPN – The Hollywood Reporter

When activist investor Dan Loeb announced a new stake in The Walt Disney Company last month, his list of proposed changes included a huge one: Sell or sub to ESPN.

Loeb, through his company Third Point, told Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a letter that breaking away from ESPN would give the sports media giant “more flexibility to pursue creative initiatives.” Business ideas can be more difficult as part of Disney, such as sports betting.”

Now, however, with Disney about to host a successful Expo D23 in Anaheim, Loeb is dropping that particular proposal.

“We have a better understanding of ESPN’s potential as an independent business and another vertical for Disney to reach a global audience to generate revenue from advertising and subscriptions,” said Loeb. in a pair of tweets on Sunday. “We look forward to seeing [ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro] execute growth and innovation plans, creating significant synergy as part of the Walt Disney Company. “

It was not immediately clear if Loeb would change his stance on his other proposals, including new board members and a quick purchase of Hulu so it could be folded into Disney+.

In interviews tied to D23 over the weekend (you can read CHEAPKim Masters interview here), Chapek says the company is in talks with Comcast about buying Hulu soon, though it doesn’t sound like an imminent deal. He also thinks ESPN is best served in Disney’s larger portfolio, and said that after Loeb’s letter, about a hundred different potential buyers or partners contacted Disney about ESPN.

“If you have a home that you’re going to put up for sale and you have hundreds of buyers, you could end up with a pretty cool home,” he told Bloomberg.

Loeb, it appears, now agrees.

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