© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo for ABC is pictured atop a building in Burbank, California February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
By Dawn Chmielewski
(Reuters) – Walt Disney (NYSE:) Co has held exploratory discussions about selling its U.S. TV network ABC to regional TV station operator Nexstar Media Group (NASDAQ:) Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The discussions come after Disney CEO Bob Iger said in July that the company could sell some of its traditional TV assets, which have struggled for years due to the rise of streaming services.
Nexstar’s interest is preliminary and may not lead to any deal, one of the sources said.
Both sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential.
A Disney spokesperson said while the company was “open to considering strategic options for its linear business”, it has not made a decision yet on the divestiture of ABC or any other property.
Nexstar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Disney shares closed up 1.2%, while Nexstar stock rose 5.7% following the report.
Bloomberg News first reported the two companies were in talks about a deal for ABC.
Disney’s ABC comprises a national television network and eight regional stations. It also has affiliation agreements with about 240 local television stations reaching almost all U.S. television households.
Nexstar has 200 owned or partner stations in 116 markets reaching over two-thirds of the U.S. population, as well as national TV networks such as CW and NewsNation. It has a market value of $5.25 billion.
Then Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner agreed to buy Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion in 1995.