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Once I heard a story about Disney buying ABC (quotes not exact).

DreamWorks had hired some of Eisner's top guys producing TV animation and had a deal lined up to produce a slate of shows for ABC's Saturday morning lineup, which was a big deal in the mid-90s for a just-starting studio like DreamWorks. Of course, when Disney bought ABC, that deal quietly came to a end, and eventually so did DreamWorks' TV animation department.

Jeffrey Katzenberg was asked by one of his staff why he thought Disney bought ABC. He was convinced that what Eisner most wanted was to take the ABC Saturday morning lineup away from DreamWorks -- to torpedo one of Jeffrey's first deals at his new company.

The staff member said, "But come on, this is business, this is a nineteen billion dollar deal! Nobody pays billions of dollars in order to personally screw someone over." Jeffrey laughed and replied, "No, when it's that much money, it's always personal."

Your story is a little hard to follow because you have both ABC buying Disney and Disney buying ABC.

Wow, you're right. Fixed it, thanks.

He was right about the error, but wrong about it being hard to follow.

Thanks. I heard it from the person involved fifteen years ago and hadn't told the story before, so I'm glad it still came out well.

I recently read that Disney primarily bought CapCities/ABC because of ESPN.


It's certainly the reason you would cite now, with 20/20 hindsight.

The power of the broadcast networks went downhill pretty soon after that deal, so it seems curious that Disney (then mostly a theme park operator and movie studio) would buy the whole shebang in order to get a sports network.

Maybe Eisner would understand that by buying ESPN, in ten years he would have the greatest leverage against cable operators in carriage deal negotiations.

Maybe. He also bought Fox Family for $3 billion six years later. I wonder what he's saying about that deal now.

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