Disney's Kevin Mayer Hints At ESPN Becoming An OTT Service
Disney Chair of Direct-to-Consumer & Int'l Kevin Mayer gave voice to the possibility of taking ESPN over the top in the years to come. Such a move probably will not happen for a decade or more, but Mayer's comments at Code Media this week marked the first time a Disney exec has talked in any detail about ESPN becoming strictly an OTT service. Mayer: "At some point, we may very well make it the a la carte option available over the top for ESPN. We're not at that point now. ... But we're always monitoring the situation." Mayer also said "there will be a time" when live NFL games air on ESPN+. It is no secret that cord cutting is affecting the sports media business, and direct-to-consumer is all the rage these days. The cable bundle will still co-exist with direct-to-consumer services for several years. But it was sobering to hear Mayer, who is in the running to eventually replace Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger, talk about the future of video in such stark terms. Mayer admitted that services like Disney+ and ESPN+ could accelerate the cord-cutting trend. He said, "When the pay-TV numbers are low enough, and all you have are sports fans that are in that bundle, does it make sense at that point -- rather than wholesaling to what is basically a sports-fan-only bundle -- to be a retailer and enjoy the retail economics of that?"