Credit: Verizon/ESPN

When Disney CEO Bob Iger said he was looking for strategic partners for ESPN, that sent a signal out to a small but notable collection of corporations and equity firms who could potentially benefit directly from such an arrangement.

Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and T-Mobile were just some of the names that came to mind for insiders.

A new report from Sahil Patel of The Information says that Verizon has indeed initiated talks with Disney about that partnership.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has “made no secret of his openness to such an arrangement,” they noted. According to Patel’s source, Vestberg  told executives of various sports leagues and teams about his “interest in partnering with Disney on the distribution of a streaming version of ESPN earlier this summer.”

Iger said in July that he “wants to retain control of ESPN” but also told analysts last week that Disney is “looking for partners that could help with ‘distribution, technology, marketing, and content opportunities’ as it shifts ESPN from a cable channel to a streaming service.”

A partnership between Verizon and ESPN would do well for the proposed ESPN streaming service, which would then presumably be made available to Verizon’s reported 92.5 million wireless customers.

Verizon and Disney also have a pre-existing relationship with a similar service. Verizon offered Disney+ directly to its wireless customers for free for a year when it first launched in 2019.

Verizon is likely to have stiff competition for the strategic partnership role, as several private equity firms and rival Comcast have both been broached as ideal partners as well.

[The Information]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to