Disney Enlists Ex-Execs Tom Staggs, Kevin Mayer to Consult on ESPN Strategic Options

Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer, two former high-ranking Disney execs, are working for the Mouse House again — in a consulting capacity.

The duo, who are the co-CEOs of media-rollup play Candle Media, have been retained by Disney to help analyze and develop strategic options for ESPN, according to two sources familiar with the arrangement. Staggs, formerly Disney’s chief operating officer, and Mayer, previously chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International and briefly CEO of TikTok, will work with Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, on developing a plan for what Disney will do with ESPN going forward. Sources noted that Staggs and Mayer will retain their roles at Candle Media.

The news comes on the heels of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments in a July 13 CNBC interview that the company was looking for a strategic partner for ESPN. Subsequently CNBC reported that Disney has had talks with the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball about becoming minority investors in ESPN.

Reps for Disney and Candle Media declined to comment. Puck’s entertainment industry newsletter first reported Disney’s enlisting Staggs and Mayer as consultants.

Staggs and Mayer formed Candle Media in 2021. The company, which is backed by Blackstone’s private-equity arm, bills itself as a “next-generation media company” that is assembling various assets to content, commerce. In 2021, the company acquired Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and kids’ content production powerhouse Moonbug Entertainment. Candle has since followed that up with several additional acquisitions, including ATTN: and Exile Content Studio.

Pictured above: Kevin Mayer (l.), Tom Staggs

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