Disney (DIS) stock rose as much as 0.6% on Friday, stabilizing after shares reached a 9-year low on Thursday during what's been a challenging year for Disney investors.
The stock closed Thursday's trading session at $82.47 a share; Disney shares had not closed below $84 since October 17, 2014, when the stock finished that day at $82.68.
Shares have also underperformed the benchmark S&P 500, declining nearly 5% year-to-date compared to the S&P's roughly 15% gain. Over the last six months, Disney shares have fallen 17% against a 9% gain for the S&P 500.
Disney has faced a slew of recent challenges which have dampened investor sentiment. The company's parks business is slowing. Its linear TV division is declining, and so are subscribers to its flagship streaming service Disney+. Not to mention the media giant seems to have lagged competitors at the box office.
Some on Wall Street are advocating for a break-up, suggesting Disney should consider unloading unprofitable or "non-core" assets.
A new report from The Information late Thursday said the company is in early talks with Amazon (AMZN) to help bring ESPN fully-over-the-top as a direct-to-consumer streaming platform.
The tech behemoth could offer ESPN through one of its streaming service, which would help boost its distribution, the report said. It's also possible Amazon could take a minority stake in the sports network.
ESPN declined to comment on the report, while Disney and Amazon did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance's request.
Disney is reportedly weighing a cost between $20 to $35 a month for the service, The Information said. That would be the highest-priced streaming platform on the market, which would debut at a time when more subscribers are canceling their streaming plans to combat rising costs.
But analysts and media watchers have cautioned ESPN's full transition to streaming will be a difficult journey, particularly when it comes to the high costs of sports rights and consumers footing the bill for an additional streaming service versus watching sports as part of the cable bundle.
An 'expansive look'
CEO Bob Iger last month said the company would take an "expansive" look at the entertainment giant's traditional TV assets, signaling the potential for strategic options that could include a sale.
"Given the thinking you've done about the future of Disney, why doesn't it make sense to create two Disney companies: one focused on parks, Disney+ and then the studio IP that drives that flywheel, and then one on everything else? So why not make a clean break?" MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson asked Iger during the company's earnings call on August 9.
Nathanson later clarified that "everything else" would include Disney’s linear networks, ESPN+, Hulu SVOD, Hulu Live TV and Disney+ Hotstar.
"I'm not going to comment on the future structure of the company or the asset makeup of the company," Iger said in response.
"As I've said, we're looking at strategic options both for ESPN and for the linear networks, obviously addressing all of the challenges that those businesses are facing."
That uncertainty has led to both internal and external turmoil as Disney has yet to name a permanent CFO with Iger's CEO contract set to expire at the end of 2026.
"I'm not in the camp that says that Disney really needs to split up," Bank of America analyst Jessica Reif-Ehrlich told Yahoo Finance, maintaining divesting likely won't be enough to solve Disney's myriad of problems.
"Having said that, I think all options, and Bob Iger has made this very clear, all options are on the table."
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