Byron Allen offers Disney $10B for ABC, linear networks

Media owner and entertainer Byron Allen has made a preliminary offer to Disney to buy ABC, as well as cable networks National Geographic and FX for $10 billion, an Allen Media Group spokesperson confirmed to StreamTV Insider.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg and later also confirmed by NextTV.

Nexstar, which acquired a majority stake in The CW in 2022, is also reported to have shown interest in and had exploratory discussions with Disney about purchasing ABC and its local TV stations, sources told Reuters.

Over the summer Disney CEO Bob Iger suggested the company might spin off some of its traditional linear TV assets, saying in July that they may no longer be core to Disney. However, according to Deadline, Disney in its own statement this week pushed back on reports of Nexstar talks saying it hadn’t made a decision on the matter, but was keeping strategic options open.

According to Bloomberg’s report, Allen’s offer is only initial and could change. Citing a person familiar with the discussion, Bloomberg said the offer of $10 billion was based on assumptions that the assets generated $1.25 billion in EBITDA over the past 12 months. The proposed price is based on a multiple of eight-times EBITDA and could change if the actual figures are higher or lower than the assumption, per the report.

Allen in 2018 acquired the Weather Channel (which later launched its own direct-to-consumer app) and a year later formed Allen Media Broadcasting, scooping up TV stations in the years following. Allen Media Group also counts streaming assets such as FAST service Local Now, The Grio, and others, alongside ten 24-hour HD TV networks.

Speaking to StreamTV Insider in a separate interview Friday, Michael Senzon, president of digital at Allen Media Group said he couldn’t comment regarding a proposed bid for the Disney assets. However, he did share his view more broadly about how any ABC stations could fit into the company’s streaming efforts.

With former roles at CNBC, and more than a decade at CNN, Senzon grew up in the world of product, content, technology and engineering. He pointed to “pioneering work” at CBS and “different flavors” that NBC brings to the table, as well as noting what Fox is doing with FAST channels.

“ABC is bringing their special pedigree, they bring outstanding journalism…to their coverage nationally, their ABC national feed and their local feeds,” he said.

“Regardless of the of the world of mergers and acquisitions,” which Senzon said isn’t his area, “I’m obviously thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with these brands who represent great journalism and great local content that I know our users love. They have a passion for these brands.”

That said, he noted “obviously an acquisition would certainly bolster Local Now.” Local Now is a FAST service focused on hyper local content, particularly news, and just added 18 CBS FAST channels, including 14 local news channels to its lineup.

He also pointed to Allen Media Broadcasting, another segment of the business that’s focused on building a broadcast station group, where all of AMG Broadcasting’s FAST channels are carried on the Local Now platform, where Senzon cited “phenomenal engagement.”

“The real winners out there are the ones who are leaning in, and on the pioneering front of programming, and focusing on that 24-hour wheel and having as much local content available,” Senzon said.