Bob Chapek Talks ESPN in First Interview Since Being Fired From Disney

Shannen Ace

Former CEO Bob Chapek on CNBC

Bob Chapek Talks ESPN in First Interview Since Being Fired From Disney

In his first public interview since being fired from Disney, former CEO Bob Chapek talked to CNBC‘s Alex Sherman about the future of ESPN.

Bob Chapek Talks About ESPN

Former CEO Bob Chapek on CNBC

The interview is part of the documentary “ESPN’s Fight for Dominance.” In response to Sherman’s broad question regarding ESPN’s future in streaming, Chapek said, “I believe that ESPN could be every bit the juggernaut it is in the streaming world as it has been in the cable world.”

The brand is so central. It is so powerful. It is so beloved by so many sports fans. At the same time though, I do believe we have to recognize that the transition from a cable universe over to a streaming world is going to be one that’s gonna probably be fraught with challenges.

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek

Sherman asked Chapek why he didn’t sell ESPN when he was CEO. Chapek pointed out Disney was in debt from acquiring Fox and the COVID-19 pandemic had just hit. ESPN was bringing in cash they needed so selling it wasn’t feasible.

After Chapek was fired in November 2022, Iger simplified the structure of Disney, splitting ESPN into its own segment. Chapek believes Disney is planning on selling all or part of ESPN and splitting it from other entertainment was the first step.

Current Disney CEO Bob Iger has previously expressed interest in bringing on more minority partners for ESPN in addition to Hearst. Chapek said he doesn’t see a strategic benefit to this.

Chapek thinks that, as the market leader in sports, ESPN should become a central hub for many sporting events.

I always look at the business through a consumer-first lens. And as the number of outlets that broadcast sporting events has grown and as the complexity and the schedule of those broadcasts gets more and more spread out, I sometimes think that we have a very suboptimal experience for consumers.

Former CEO Bob Chapek

Chapek compared this potential portal version of ESPN to Apple TV, which allows users to search for a movie or show and then directs them to the streaming service where it’s available.

Watch the full interview below.

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