Since Bob Chapek took over as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, he has found himself making headlines for a lot of the wrong reasons. Speaking to sources inside the company, The Hollywood Reporter reports that those missteps could mean his days are numbered.
Many people will point to the position he wanted Disney to take on Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the public backlash it drew from fans and employees. Inside the company though, that move is seen as the latest in a line of decisions that indicate Chapek may be out of touch with the people that work for and consume products from the company.
“It’s funny how many people have said to me, ‘It’s such a giant mess, but I’m not surprised,’” one longtime Disney insider told THR’s Kim Masters of the way Bob Chapek responded to the Florida legislation. “That’s part of what makes it difficult to recover from.”
From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN. Chapek comes from a consumer products background and has been more aggressive than any Disney CEO before him about embracing sports betting and taking advantage of the revenue that it could generate for ESPN. Advertising is one thing, but Chapek has made it clear that he is willing to license the ESPN name to a sportsbook if the price is right.
Would another CEO embrace something outside of Disney’s family friendly image so aggressively? That is a question that is especially worth asking if Chapek is removed for having lost the confidence of the Disney Board of Directors.
Disney had a management retreat scheduled for this weekend. It would have put Chapek in front of some of the most powerful executives in the business world. The company cancelled the retreat at the last minute. It is a decision one source told Masters was “not necessarily fatal but very serious and destabilizing.”
“This was Chapek’s big moment, post Iger, to assert his leadership and vision in front of the top 300 execs worldwide,” the source said. “These events at Disney are like political rallies, coronations, sports camps and proms all in one.”
Bob Chapek still has eleven months left on his current contract at Disney and sources tell Masters that as far as they know, nothing is for certain. However, the story indicates that the writing may literally be on the wall in terms of what direction the decision makers are leaning.
“A cartoon hanging in the production offices of The Simpsons seems to suggest an opinion,” Masters writes. “It has Chapek in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Oscars show.”
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.