Disney has had talks about a potential acquisition of Twitter, we’ve confirmed. They’re working with bankers now to determine whether the deal makes sense, multiple sources have informed us.
While some reports have suggested that Twitter could fetch $30 billion, we are hearing that the price tag is much lower. Twitter stock is currently trending upward on the news, and Disney’s downward. At the end of last week, Twitter’s market cap was below $13 billion on Thursday, before rumors of a possible Salesforce acquisition broke. Twitter’s market cap is now almost $20 billion, suggesting that investors believe it could optimistically fetch that price.
Disney, which owns media properties like ESPN and ABC, is hoping that the social media platform could amplify their reach. Twitter has also been dabbling in content partnerships, including one with the NFL. Successful implementation of these partnerships could also prove to be beneficial to a media conglomerate like Disney.
Twitter’s live streaming efforts with companies like the NFL and its own Periscope platform have reportedly sparked interest from some acquirers. Disney’s ESPN, of course, has had its own struggles with revenue recently, but still accounts for a huge portion of Disney’s value. Twitter’s streaming of NFL games on the web and in its apps are powered by BAMTech, the tech spinout of Major League Baseball’s MLBAM, which Disney has a 33% stake in. So any acquisition would likely not be about hard tech in this arena but instead the combination of live streams and commentary shown off by Twitter’s Thursday Night Football experiment.
Because of the decline in cable viewership, companies like Disney are looking for new platforms to expand the reach of their leading brands. ESPN and ABC could benefit from greater digital video partnerships and social media integration.
Ultimately, this combination would be about re-imagining distribution platforms and building a long-term vision for a real-time content powerhouse.
News of the deal has been juiced a bit by the fact that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey serves on Disney’s board.
News of Disney’s interest was broken this morning by Bloomberg, and as far as we know the deal has been in the works for a bit now.
There are plenty of roadblocks to a deal like this happening, not the least of which is Twitter’s major issues with abuse and its one-time stance as a bastion of free speech. Disney has had a mixed record with free speech issues in the past, having once essentially torpedoed the distribution of 1997’s Kundun, a movie about the Dalai Lama critical of China’s relations with Tibet. Disney’s not alone there; Universal dropped its bid to distribute Kundun so as not to offend the massive Chinese market. But the incident illustrates the rocky relationship media companies have with controversial free speech issues.
Twitter is also a bridge network that has attempted to court a variety of media-rich companies, from the NFL to every major publisher. As a distributor of news and commentary platform, Twitter’s strengths lie in at least some amount of agnosticism when it comes to media companies. How having it owned by one of the largest content businesses on the planet would affect that efficacy is doubtless a part of these discussions.
We’ve reached out to Twitter and Disney for comment.