Byron Allen, the LA-based media mogul behind the film and TV company Entertainment Studios and Allen Media Group, has made a $10 billion bid to acquire ABC and Disney’s other TV networks, including FX and Nat Geo, a rep for Allen confirmed to IndieWire.
As first reported by Bloomberg, the offer is still preliminary and could change. But the $10 billion figure is based on the $1.25 billion in EBITDA the networks, along with eight other regional ABC networks, have accrued within the past year.
Disney CEO Bob Iger indicated back in July that he would be open to selling broadcast network ABC and Disney’s other non-ESPN cable networks and stations, saying they weren’t growth businesses and “may not be core” to Disney’s overall business.
But on Thursday, following another Bloomberg report that Disney had initial sales talks with The CW owner Nexstar, the company said in a statement that it “has made no decision” about divesting ABC or other properties and called such reports “unfounded.”
A Disney spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Allen’s bid.
Allen Media Group owns The Weather Channel, film distributor Freestyle, several regional sports networks, and other broadcast TV stations. Such an acquisition could be seen as a no-no by the FCC, as would an acquisition from Nexstar considering its ownership of broadcast channel The CW.
However, Allen’s offer also arrives after Disney was caught in a massive carriage dispute with Spectrum cable owner Charter. Just ahead of “Monday Night Football” debuting on ESPN, Disney reached a deal with Charter to keep Disney’s cable networks on Spectrum and offer the basic versions of Disney+ and ESPN+ to some of Charter’s subscribers for free. That deal, however, meant that Charter dropped other Disney linear channels, including Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild, and Nat Geo Mundo.
All that is another sign of just how dramatically the TV landscape is changing and why such a deal with Allen or Nexstar could get federal approval.
Allen is a former stand-up comedian and late-night TV writer, as well as at the time the youngest person to ever perform on “The Tonight Show.” His company as of last year was valued at over $4.5 billion, and he even put in a bid to buy the Denver Broncos but was ultimately outbid.