ESPN Standalone Offering Not Coming Anytime Soon
Correction: A previous version of this article stated Skipper said a standalone ESPN product was not "a good business." Skipper said a standalone ESPN could be sold, but said the company didn't believe it was "good business" at the moment.
Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS)'s ESPN channel could eventually mimic HBO's path and be offered to consumers as a standalone option - just not anytime soon.
John Skipper, President of ESPN, spoke at the Recode Media conference and said that offering the sporting network to consumers as a standalone option is not presently on the table. "We can sell ESPN as a standalone product, but we do not believe it right now to be good business," he said.
USA Today noted that ESPN reaches 97 million homes, more than three times HBO's roughly 30 million cable subscribers. For the time being, Skipper reaffirmed that the best course of action for ESPN is to remain part of a cable bundle . However, the executive did add that the company will look at the direct to consumer model "when we think it will help us grow our business."
Meanwhile, Re/code reported that ESPN is exploring digital streaming services to offer its network over online.
"A number of people have expressed interest and we're in discussions with a large number of people," Skipper also said during his appearance at the conference.
The report added that ESPN will likely be offered as part of a larger bundle which includes other Disney channels.
Finally, Skipper stated that the "only think" he is willing to discuss with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and its media boss Eddy Cue (also a personal friend of Skipper) is "that Apple understand the value of the Walt Disney Company."
Shares of Disney were trading lower by around 1 percent at $94.64 late Thursday morning.
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