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ABC and ESPN made Disney – what does it do with them now?

Disney’s acquisition of ABC/Capital Cities kick-started its transformation to one of the largest companies in the world.

When was the last time you watched TV? No, not used the internet to watch television content. When was the last time you watched cable or broadcast television on a large, permanently-placed large screen?

Millions of people still do so with regularity, but their numbers are falling every year. Streaming is the future – or so the cliche goes – that means that what exactly big media companies do with established TV channels is not totally clear. 

This week’s episode of The Closer is about how Disney’s acquisition of ABC and ESPN turbocharged the House of Mouse’s rise from a movie company that runs theme parks into the global media juggernaut that it is today. Present-day Disney really can’t be understood without understanding it as a series of acquisitions.

Aimee talked to Anna Nicolaou, who covers media for the Financial Times, about how Disney’s deal for ABC and ESPN came together and where they’re heading now.

Nicolaou points out that big media companies have, in part, actually accelerated the shift from network and cable TV to streaming by putting their best stuff on their streaming platforms. The result is what she calls a “ghost town” on the actual TV channels. The outlines are still there, but the streets are empty. What exactly Disney does with that downtrodden real estate is one of the big decisions that will define Bob Iger’s second stint as CEO. 

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