Walt Disney Co. is in preliminary talks about potentially selling ABC network and TV stations, with Nexstar Media Group (the largest owner of local television and broadcast networks in the country) showing interest, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
While the discussions are said to be in the early stages, with no “specific valuation,” several individuals with or connected to ABC News have expressed apprehension and unease as they confront an uncertain future, CNN reported.
One ABC News employee described the prevailing sentiment to CNN saying, “Everyone is freaking the f–k out.” Another added, “It’s all anyone at work is talking about.”
Staff members, who had already anticipated separation from Disney following Bob Iger’s comments in July suggesting the television asset might not be core to the company’s strategy, are now concerned about the rapid progress of a potential sale, they told CNN.
ABC News employees told the outlet that there has been a lack of insight into the company’s future, receiving information about potential plans through the media instead of directly from Disney’s leadership.
In July, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the company’s traditional TV networks “may not be core” to its business. Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg | Getty Images.
The rumors of a sale and subsequent staff uncertainty come amid ongoing financial challenges for Disney, particularly in its broadcast and streaming divisions. While Disney continues to heavily depend on traditional channels like ESPN and ABC, which contribute to approximately one-third of its operational profits, the channels are facing significant challenges due to cord-cutting (when a user switches from paid cable to an internet streaming service), rising sports programming expenses, and a reduction in advertiser support.
In its third-quarter earnings report, Disney’s traditional channels generated $1.9 billion in operational income, a 23% drop as compared to the previous year. As for its streaming division, losses have amounted to over $11 billion since 2019, The New York Times reported.