What is ESPN’s stock price, and are they publicly traded? ESPN and all of its subsidiaries are owned by the Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS). ESPN was originally acquired by the broadcast network ABC back in 1984. However, you can buy and sell Disney ($DIS). If you have Disney+, then you know ESPN+ is included in that subscription. Therefore, owning Disney is a little like owning ESPN shares.
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ESPN Introduction (No Stock Symbol)
Even if you’re not a sports fan, I am positive you know what ESPN is. ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network and was established in 1979. The company is based out of Bristol, Connecticut. They’re the leading sports broadcaster in the United States. As of 2021, ESPN broadcasts in over 200 different countries worldwide and owns dozens of sister channels under its umbrella.
ESPN holds the rights to broadcast most major sporting leagues, including the NFL, NCAA, NBA, NHL, and MLB. It is also well known for some of its exclusive programming, like College Gameday, Around the Horn, E:60, and 30 for 30.
The company is also involved in various other facets of sports, including sports betting, an exclusive partnership with Caesars Entertainment, and is an industry leader in fantasy sports. But is there an ESPN stock symbol?
In 1996, ABC and all of its subsidiaries were acquired by Disney. This makes ESPN a part of one of the most dominant entertainment conglomerates in the world.
2019 Disney also acquired 21st Century Fox in a blockbuster deal worth $71 billion. The deal gave Disney three of the most prominent networks in sports broadcasting with Fox Sports, ABC, and ESPN.
Of course, the agreement also provided Disney with ownership of the entire Fox media library. As a result, these shows and movies are now viewable on Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+.
So you can invest in Disney without an ESPN stock symbol. And that’s a great investment for your portfolio!
What Other Brands Does Disney Own?
The Disney umbrella runs deep in the entertainment world. And the company is no longer simply a Mickey Mouse-based organization. They’re the ESPN stock symbol. Now that you know much of the sports broadcasting world is owned by Disney, what other brands does the House of Mouse own? Let’s look at a few that are obvious and a few that may surprise you!
Hulu: Wait, but doesn’t Disney already have Disney+? Yes, but before that came Hulu, a U.S. exclusive channel that serves over 44 million Americans annually. It is a premium service broadcaster with agreements with other networks to air their products. Hulu also airs shows and movies from Disney and its other subsidiaries and recently agreed with Sony Pictures to have exclusive streaming rights to many of their properties.
Disney Movie Franchises
Marvel: The Marvel Universe and its intellectual property were acquired by Disney in 2009 for a measly $4 billion. At the time, Marvel was not as it is known today.
It was a struggling franchise with a very niche audience. Then, Disney took the Marvel Comic Universe and became the highest-grossing movie franchise in history.
All Marvel Comic Universe movies have grossed over $26 billion at the global box office alone. This doesn’t include products, merchandise, or additional theme park visitors that the Marvel Comic Universe has attracted.
Star Wars: In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm in another deal valued at $4 billion. While the subsequent Star Wars films have not performed as well as the Marvel Comic Universe films, it’s safe to say the franchise has more than made up for its $4 billion price tag.
Disney has incorporated Star Wars into its theme parks and merchandise like Marvel. It has also produced several new movies and the popular Mandalorian series exclusive to Disney+.
The Muppets: Wait, Disney even owns the Muppets? That’s right, Disney acquired the Muppets from the Jim Henson Company back in 2004. While the Muppets don’t play as key a role at theme parks or in movie theaters, it’s still a valuable piece of intellectual property for the company.
ESPN Competitors (Stock Symbols)
While you cannot invest directly in an ESPN stock symbol, you can invest in other companies in the sports industry. Of course, if you want to invest in ESPN, you can always buy shares of Disney. There has been a pretty clear shift in the sports world from pure broadcasting to a rise in the popularity of sports betting and fantasy sports. Look at some of ESPN’s rival companies on the stock market.
DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG): DraftKings has emerged as one of the industry leaders in both sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports. The company went public via a SPAC merger in 2020 with Diamond Eagle Acquisition. The stock’s performance since its inception is a little misleading as it tracks from the $10.00 NAV price of SPAC stocks. Still, shares are up nearly 300% over the past seventeen months, so it has been a good investment for those who were able to get in early. Another fun fact about DraftKings: Disney owns a 27% stake in the company. Sports betting is anticipated to grow to a market size of $140 billion by 2028, so DraftKings is positioned well to take advantage of this global trend.
Casino Stocks: Every industry evolves, and the gambling industry has been no different. We already discussed the partnership that ESPN and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) have. In Las Vegas, Caesars also established an ESPN studio at the LINQ Hotel and Casino that is strictly used for betting content. Another legacy casino brand, MGM (NYSE: MGM), has created its BetMGM line of mobile betting apps in states where sports betting has been legalized. Finally, Wynn Casino (NASDAQ: WYNN) has also established a digital betting service called WynnBET for the mobile betting industry.
Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ: PENN): There is a growing rivalry between ESPN and Penn’s subsidiary Barstool Sports. Barstool, led by charismatic and controversial founder Dave Portnoy, has captured the attention of young males nationwide.
Penn has dozens of brick-and-mortar casinos and racetracks nationwide but has broken into the mobile betting industry with the Barstool Sportsbook.
While ESPN is still the undisputed leader, Barstool is catching up in terms of online content and is certainly establishing itself as an up-and-coming ESPN rival.
Nike (NYSE: NKE): Nike is as dominant in the sporting apparel and fashion industry as ESPN is in broadcasting. There isn’t a professional sports league in North America that Nike does not have an impact on, particularly the NBA and the NFL.
Nike re-established itself as a premium brand, and the stock has reacted well to the evolution. The Oregon-based company has a market cap of $271 billion and is the undisputed leader in sports-related apparel.
FuboTV (NYSE: FUBO): Meme stock lovers will have certainly heard of FuboTV as it was once a popular stock in Reddit forums. While it remains unclear how legitimate FuboTV is, it’s an interesting concept. FuboTV is a sports streaming network that is in the process of integrating a real-time betting service for the games it broadcasts. In theory, it sounds like a great idea, although the stock’s performance in 2021 has left something to be desired. FuboTV will never make it to be as big as ESPN, but it’s certainly an indication of just how popular sports betting has become. In addition, FuboTV is on the market, whereas an ESPN stock symbol is not.
Will ESPN Ever Go Public?
The short answer is, probably not. While you shouldn’t ever rule anything out in the stock market, as long as Disney owns ESPN it is unlikely it’ll spin it off into a separate stock. ESPN has been in existence since 1979 and has always been a privately owned company. As long as it remains under the Disney umbrella, we shouldn’t expect to see the stock trading on any market. In other words, there won’t be an ESPN stock symbol.
ESPN Stock Symbol Final Thoughts
So, there you have it. Unfortunately, you’re out of luck if you’re looking for an ESPN stock symbol. Shares of ESPN cannot be bought on any stock market anywhere in the world. So, if you want to invest in ESPN, you might have to buy shares of Disney instead, which isn’t a bad investment.
ESPN remains the sports broadcasting leader in the United States alongside other Disney subsidiaries like ABC and Fox Sports. While the brand focuses on broadcasting, ESPN has done a fantastic job of keeping up with the times. It’s incorporated sports betting into its programming and podcasts and has an impressive agreement with Caesars Entertainment.
As a sports fan, I couldn’t imagine not having access to ESPN. As an investor, I recognize how sticky ESPN is as a product in my life, and these products often make the best investments.