Disney CEO Bob Iger has taken the unusual step of paying former executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs a consulting fee to help him solve a complex problem: what to do with ESPN.
Mayer and Staggs are the co-CEOs of Candle Media. Both men are close with Iger and have served as informal advisors to him in the past. They’re working with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro on the strategic options for ESPN and, to a lesser degree, Disney’s other linear cable networks.
Iger is looking for new ways to jumpstart ESPN because the rate of U.S. cable cancellations has accelerated. In years past, ESPN could still generate revenue growth by increasing programming fees for pay TV distributors, such as Comcast, Charter and DirecTV.
That dynamic no longer exists. As ESPN revenue declines, it will become a larger anchor on Disney’s earnings. That has prompted Iger to explore different strategic alternatives.