Since Disney purchased ABC in the 90s, the company has mostly let the network focus on entertainment and news. Major sporting events were on network television, but for the most part, ESPN was used as the sports brand.
That model has changed in recent years and according to Variety, there is no end in site. Not only will ESPN continue utilizing ABC in MegaCast events like Monday Night Football and the NFL Draft, but Disney will also be using other networks and digital platforms to carry sports in the future.
Next month, Sunday Night Baseball, an ESPN staple, will air on ABC for the first time. It was also previously announced that ABC will carry some Wimbledon matches as part of the recent rights extension Disney and ESPN signed for the event.
Disney’s new NHL deal will also spread beyond ESPN. In addition to the games carried on cable, plenty of hockey games will be carried digitally. That doesn’t just mean ESPN+. Hulu will carry several games each season as part of the deal.
ESPN enters the Super Bowl rotation in 2026. Jimmy Pitaro told Variety that he hopes to be able to use the MegaCast model for the game. That would mean utilizing a number of non-ESPN platforms in the company’s presentation of the game.
“We had 14 different broadcasts for this past season’s college football championship game, and so I don’t know if we’d offer that number, but several of those broadcasts would be contemplated for the Super Bowl,” he said.
Disney already utilizes ABC for college football coverage. Could a network like DisneyXD or Freeform enter the mix as a way to create sports broadcasts for younger audiences? Would Disney+ ever stream some ESPN branded content?
The company has become Hollywood’s premier studio. There are no shortage of ways for Pitaro and other Disney executives to get more bang for their sports buck.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.