ESPN Will Likely Remain Part of Disney as Activist Investor Dan Loeb Backs Down From His Breakup Campaign

Disney's D23 expo was upstaged by news the company likely won't be selling off ESPN and could include it as part of a "hard bundled" streaming service with Disney+ and Hulu.

The D23 logo appears in front of the Disney logo
Disney invests in prequels, sequels and a couple new titles.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Disney (DIS)’s D23 expo, the weekend fan event the company used to announce everything it’s doing, may have been overshadowed by news of what it’s not doing: Selling ESPN.

On Sept. 11, investor Daniel Loeb signaled on Twitter that he was backing down from his campaign to break up Disney by having the entertainment giant sell off its sports brand. Loeb tweeted that he had “a better understanding” of ESPN’s potential.

It’s possible Loeb was persuaded by a potential “hard-bundle” of Disney’s streaming services hinted at by Disney CEO Bob Chapek in an interview with Variety that would potentially unite Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ into one service.

Disney fans, however, may be more intrigued by some of the other announcements that came from the stage of the Anaheim (California) Convention Center. Among them:

  • Inside Out is getting a sequel which will premier in Summer 2024. Like the first movie, it will take place inside the main character Riley’s head, featuring the same characters.
  • Two new animated movies will be released in 2023. Elio is about a boy who meets aliens and gets sent into space, and Wish is a musical about the origin of a magical wishing star.
  • Disney showcased new trailers for Disenchanted, Hocus Pocus 2, National Treasure: Edge Of History and Strange World. It also released teasers for The Little Mermaid live action remake, Indiana Jones 5, Mufasa: The Lion King, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Snow White live action remake, and Avatar: The Way of Water. Some have not been released online yet.
  • Disney revealed its model for converting the famous ride “Splash Mountain” at Walt Disney World and Disneyland into “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” based on The Princess and the Frog. The attraction will open in 2024.

ESPN Will Likely Remain Part of Disney as Activist Investor Dan Loeb Backs Down From His Breakup Campaign