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.