Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, who at one point were considered the heirs apparent to Disney CEO Bob Iger, are rejoining the company in advisory roles as Iger looks to potentially sell Disney’s linear TV holdings.
Mayer and Staggs, who founded Candle Media in 2021, are not returning as full-time employees and will continue to run Candle, but their association with the company has caused a buzz on Wall Street. Before Iger selected Bob Chapek to replace him as CEO, both Mayer and Staggs were widely seen as candidates for the job.
Iger has been tasked, once again, with finding someone to replace him before his contract expires in 2026. Internal candidates are said to include Dana Walden, co-chair of filmed entertainment, and Josh D’Amaro, who heads Disney theme parks. But Mayer and Staggs have to be viewed as possible contenders as well.
Puck was the first outlet to report that the pair are working with Disney, saying they will consult with Iger and ESPN head Jimmy Pitaro on the future of linear properties, including ABC.
Iger, last month, in a wide-ranging interview with CNBC, the CEO of the entertainment giant suggested he would be open to selling ABC and other holdings, saying Disney would be “expansive” with its thinking about the traditional TV business.
“They may not be core to Disney,” Iger said.
Disney has held preliminary conversations with companies that could extend the distribution and add content to an ESPN streaming service, though it has declined to name those businesses. Apple, Amazon and Google are likely candidates, as each holds rights to major sports franchises, although Pitaro has said that ESPN could partner with an actual sports league. As for other cable holdings, such as FX or NatGeo, Disney is open to selling those or spinning them off as well, Iger said.