Disney Leans Hard Into ESPN – And Sports – At Upfront – Front Office Sports

NEW YORK–For an organization that considered selling ESPN, the Walt Disney Co. sure leaned into sports during its upfront presentation here Tuesday.
Disney trotted out a succession of A-List athletes and ESPN personalities to tout the symbiotic relationship between Mouse House and the Worldwide Leader in Sports. 
Virtually the first hour of the two-hour presentation for national advertisers was devoted to sports and ESPN. It was a smart move by Disney. The writer’s strike in Hollywood is limiting opportunities for entertainment giants to tout their new dramas, sitcoms, and reality shows.
Even when Disney was touting its vast portfolio of entertaining shows and movies, the presentation had a sports feel to it.
Jesse Palmer, the former New York Giants quarterback, pushed the sagging “Bachelor” franchise on ABC.
Ex-Giants superstar Michael Strahan of ABC’s “Good Morning America” touted the network’s news offerings. It was the second upfront in as many days for Strahan, who also appeared at Fox’s upfront on Monday.
Returning Disney chief executive Bob Iger rejected calls from activist investors to spin off ESPN. Instead, he recently made ESPN one of three pillars of the Mouse House along with Disney Parks and Disney Entertainment.
Tweeted CNBC’s Alex Sherman: “All sports at the Disney upfront so far. They’re leaning on ESPN like it’s 2012!”


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