Could Disney Convert ABC to a Cable Channel?


Disney has seen huge success with their sports cable channel ESPN. 

But, could the Mouse be looking to turn ABC into a cable only channel as well? And it would have a huge if not devastating impact on their affiliates. 

And if you wonder who is to blame?  You can blame Aereo as one of the biggest reasons why ABC is considering this. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that even as major broadcasters fight Aereo in court, some have also pondered another way to fight the video streaming service – by converting to a cable network.

Chase Carey, chief operating officer of Fox network’s parent Twenty-First Century Fox publicly flagged that possibility last spring. Less well known is that ABC network’s parent Co privately considered a similar move for ABC around the same time, say people familiar with the situation.

That idea was one of many options considered as part of a strategic review “fire drill”, the people said. These included whether to sell ABC’s owned and operated TV stations while keeping the network, one of the people said, an idea that dovetails with converting ABC to a cable channel.

A cable network doesn’t broadcast its signal over the air like broadcast networks, preventing Aereo from taking the signal and re-transmitting it online to paid subscribers, as it is doing with the broadcast networks in certain markets. That has prompted legal action from broadcasters, including a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking for its intervention.

As part of the review, Disney considered other options as well. Bankers were involved, pitching various sale ideas, including of the stations, says another person familiar with the situation.

Disney ended up deciding a sale didn’t make strategic sense. That hasn’t stopped lots of rumors circulating in recent weeks – the New York Post reported on Friday that the company was mulling a sale of the stations, for instance. One person close to the situation says the stations are not for sale.