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Report: CEO Bob Chapek On Thin Ice At Disney

“From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN.”

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Laughing Place

Since Bob Chapek took over as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, he has found himself making headlines for a lot of the wrong reasons. Speaking to sources inside the company, The Hollywood Reporter reports that those missteps could mean his days are numbered.

Many people will point to the position he wanted Disney to take on Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the public backlash it drew from fans and employees. Inside the company though, that move is seen as the latest in a line of decisions that indicate Chapek may be out of touch with the people that work for and consume products from the company.

“It’s funny how many people have said to me, ‘It’s such a giant mess, but I’m not surprised,’” one longtime Disney insider told THR’s Kim Masters of the way Bob Chapek responded to the Florida legislation. “That’s part of what makes it difficult to recover from.”

From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN. Chapek comes from a consumer products background and has been more aggressive than any Disney CEO before him about embracing sports betting and taking advantage of the revenue that it could generate for ESPN. Advertising is one thing, but Chapek has made it clear that he is willing to license the ESPN name to a sportsbook if the price is right.

Would another CEO embrace something outside of Disney’s family friendly image so aggressively? That is a question that is especially worth asking if Chapek is removed for having lost the confidence of the Disney Board of Directors.

Disney had a management retreat scheduled for this weekend. It would have put Chapek in front of some of the most powerful executives in the business world. The company cancelled the retreat at the last minute. It is a decision one source told Masters was “not necessarily fatal but very serious and destabilizing.”

“This was Chapek’s big moment, post Iger, to assert his leadership and vision in front of the top 300 execs worldwide,” the source said. “These events at Disney are like political rallies, coronations, sports camps and proms all in one.”

Bob Chapek still has eleven months left on his current contract at Disney and sources tell Masters that as far as they know, nothing is for certain. However, the story indicates that the writing may literally be on the wall in terms of what direction the decision makers are leaning.

“A cartoon hanging in the production offices of The Simpsons seems to suggest an opinion,” Masters writes. “It has Chapek in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Oscars show.”

Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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