Apple Inc. is famous for avoiding high-profile acquisitions, but it should make an exception for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN as it looks to build out the sports offerings on its streaming-video service, according to Wedbush.
(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. is famous for avoiding high-profile acquisitions, but it should make an exception for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN as it looks to build out the sports offerings on its streaming-video service, according to Wedbush.
An acquisition or strategic partnership with the sports channel would be “a no brainer,” wrote analyst Dan Ives. He said that buying ESPN would probably cost more than $50 billion, but would “make a ton of strategic sense” by giving Apple valuable sports content, major TV rights, and “change the cross-sell opportunities and attractiveness of Apple TV looking ahead.”
While Apple rarely makes big acquisitions — its biggest purchase was the $3 billion deal for Beats Music and Beats Electronics in 2014 — Ives suspects Apple could make an exception for ESPN.
“Apple recognizes that in this streaming arms race there is a ‘closing window’ for the stalwart to acquire content and cement its footing in the live sports content arena.”
Disney has signaled it’s considering selling or finding strategic partners for its broadcast and cable television assets. Executives have signaled they’re looking to sell a stake in ESPN to a partner that can help accelerate the network’s transition to streaming.
To Ives, this suggests ESPN “potentially may be on the table in one form or another.” Other analysts have advocated for Apple buying Disney outright.
Apple shares are trading about flat on Thursday while Disney is up 0.4%. The iPhone maker has risen about 36% this year through Wednesday’s close, though it has dropped 10% from a recent peak, with its results recently weighing on the shares. Disney shares are little changed in 2023.
(Updates to market open.)
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