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High points of ESPN update on today’s shareholder call.

February 7, 2024, 10:38 PM ET [6 Comments]
Jeremy Laura
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Before I give you the overall view, here is how this could benefit the NHL. As the NBA rights are bid on, the ask is 75 billion for 10 or more years (minimum 6 billion per year). Whoever loses that will take a look at the NHL. The COMBINED broadcast rights of ESPN and Bally equals 550m, about 1/3 of Basketball. If Amazon loses to apple, they already are working on taking over Bally markets. They could make a big offer just to get live sports. IF the NHL can get a bidding war going as Apple, Netflix and Amazon all want in on live sports. Imagine an extra billion or more if Bettman will sit down at the table. That’s HRR with a lot of potential for advertising and partnerships.

Here’s what was covered:

Big win in acquiring Fortnite
Still planning on full streaming by 2025
Over 1 million subs were just lost in past quarter
The “merger” that was announced today was focused on
(Investors were actually asking about how long before ESPN/Disney/Hulu streaming will turn a profit. Best quarter since inception of Disney+ is -300 million)
Both ESPN and Hulu will be “part” of Disney plus and they are sure people will pay for all 3.
Password sharing will start being enforced in March
Had to acknowledge Hulu Live temporarily competes with ESPN
Over 10 million lost subscribers over the past 3 quarters
*customers would rather pay for our bundle than for cable. All of you know that’s not true. As rates go up so do cancellations

Here’s what they avoided:
The Gambling add to ESPN has already caused issues. Look at FIFA and what could happen with gambling available to players and officials, let alone one embedded in a partner.
2 major lawsuits were announced today. (One is an on set death during a current Marvel project)
NBA is bidding their rights this year. Currently at 1.6 billion per year minimum new ask is 6 billion. IF ESPN loses the NBA it will be a disaster. ESPN had 3 rounds of layoffs last year alone.
Only ONE streaming service showed profitability last year: NETFLIX
Disney Plus has averaged a loss of around 1 billion dollars per quarter since inception. Original content costs out of control. One of the lowest viewed Marvel series cost 25m per episode and still a net loss of customers.

**selfishly - the NHL needs to start having lunch with AppleTV execs. The goggles are being programmed for NBA and NFL where you can be at courside or on the sideline. Imagine being able to be in on ice capacity switching between views. Super expensive, but an experience that is unavailable even with the best seats. Get to the table with the people who are begging to spend money and you can fix the escrow/cap issues.
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