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POSITIVE SYNERGY? ESPN BRAND MAY BECOME MORE VISIBLE ON ABC
Published March 3, 1998
Disney is "considering tying its successful ESPN sports channel more closely to ABC Sports - possibly replacing the ABC Sports moniker in some programming," according to Michael Stroud of BROADCASTING & CABLE. A more visible linkage could give ABC Sports programming "stronger brand recognition," while giving extra exposure to the ESPN brand as Disney launches ESPN restaurants and retail stores. Cowen & Co. analyst Harold Vogel called the possible scenario an "interesting example of the cable network tail wagging the broadcast network dog." Since ESPN's "strong" profit has "helped to counter" ABC's "lesser" contribution to Disney's earnings, Stroud wrote that bolstering ESPN's role "makes fiscal sense." Hearst Corp., which owns 20% of ESPN "would likely approve the plan," although support from ABC's union members "is less certain" (B&C, 3/2 issue).