Disney versus the US Open
If it wasn’t so tragic the non-broadcast of the U.S. Tennis Open to a swathe of the American
sports viewing audience would be worthy of a canned-laughter Disney sitcom.
Except that Disney and by association, the United States Tennis Association, are complicit in
depriving that audience.
Disney, owner of the ABC Network and cable sports provider ESPN, has exclusive broadcast
rights for the Open.
The company’s CEO Bob Iger, who was just reinstated to a two year $35 million per annum
contract is involved in a snit with arch rival Spectrum, the second biggest tv subscription
company in the U.S.
Spectrum is resisting increasing the revenue that it contributes to the Disney conglomerate
beyond the current $2 billion.
Disney has responded by wiping all Spectrum subscribers from its network including those who
happen also to subscribe separately to Disney.
Wells Fargo yesterday downgraded its price target on Disney stock by $30 a share. The
company has incurred a 30% market capitalisation decline this year.
In the vanguard of the victims, besides Disney shareholders, are U.S. tennis fans.
However, Disney has also canceled access to the ABC Network to an estimated audience of 15
The Federal Communications Commission, once vested with the protection of free-to-air
networks, has been nowhere to be found.
In the meantime, the writers strike of which Disney has been a chief harbinger enters its fifth
Ironically it has been widely speculated that Iger can’t wait to offload ESPN from the Disney
network portfolio so the USTA may find itself with an entirely different broadcast partner in 2024.
Hopefully, it will learn from this experience and put American tennis fans ahead of broadcast