Disney and Spectrum have reached a new deal to bring back popular channels like ESPN, ABC, FX, Disney Channel, and Freeform to Spectrum cable service subscribers. The agreement comes after nearly 15 million Spectrum subscribers were left without access to Disney’s channels since August 31st. This blackout occurred during a U.S. Open tennis match and a college football game, causing frustration among viewers.
The CEOs of Disney and Charter Communications, Bob Iger and Chris Winfrey respectively, issued a joint statement expressing their goal to build an innovative model for the future. They recognized the value of linear television as well as the growing popularity of streaming services. The statement also thanked mutual customers for their patience during the outage and announced the restoration of Disney’s high-quality sports, news, and entertainment programming just in time for Monday Night Football.
During the blackout, Charter Communications held a conference call with Wall Street analysts, where it revealed its readiness to abandon its pay TV business if necessary. Winfrey stated that they were at a precipice and that they were either moving forward with a new collaborative video model or seeking alternative video offerings. One of the sticking points for Charter was the desire to offer Disney’s streaming services in its pay TV service, along with the flexibility to choose channels for different packages.
Fortunately, many of these issues were resolved in the new deal. Disney announced that Charter will provide Spectrum TV Select customers access to Disney+ with ads in a wholesale arrangement between the companies. ESPN+ will be offered to Spectrum TV Select Plus customers, while the flagship ESPN streaming service will become available to those customers when it launches. Charter will also market Disney’s streaming services to its broadband customers.
However, there will be significant changes to Disney’s channel offerings. Freeform, Disney Junior, Disney XD, FXX, and Nat Geo Wild, among other cable channels, will no longer be carried by Spectrum. Instead, Spectrum will focus on the core ESPN networks, FX, Nat Geo, Disney Junior channels, and ABC stations.
In addition to the channel agreement, Disney and Charter Spectrum have also renewed their commitment to lead the industry in mitigating the effects of unauthorized password sharing. This suggests that they will collaborate to crack down on this common practice.
Charter Spectrum, as the dominant cable operator in both New York City and Los Angeles, plays a crucial role in the pay-TV ecosystem. This new deal between Disney and Charter brings relief to millions of Spectrum subscribers who were left without access to their favorite channels. The agreement takes into account the changing dynamics of the television industry, recognizing the value of linear television while also adjusting to the growing popularity of streaming services. By partnering together, Disney and Spectrum aim to provide their customers with the best possible viewing experience.