Robert Iger and Chris Winfrey
The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications, which operates the Spectrum cable service, have reached a new carriage deal, which means that channels such as ESPN, the local ABC stations, FX and Disney Channel will once again be available to the cable provider's pay TV subscribers, ending a week-long dispute.
In a joint statement, Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and Chris Winfrey, CEO of Charter Communications, said: “Our collective goal has always been to build an innovative model for the future. This deal recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services while addressing the evolving needs of our consumers. We also want to thank our mutual customers for their patience this past week and are pleased that Spectrum viewers once again have access to Disney’s high-quality sports, news and entertainment programming, in time for Monday Night Football.”
Among the key deal points, both companies announced that, in the coming months, the Disney+ Basic ad-supported offering will be provided to customers who purchase the Spectrum TV Select package, as part of a wholesale arrangement. Moreover, ESPN+ will be provided to Spectrum TV Select Plus subscribers, and the ESPN flagship direct-to-consumer service will be made available to Spectrum TV Select subscribers when it launches.
Meanwhile, Charter will maintain flexibility to offer a range of video packages at varying price points based upon different customer viewing preferences. The group will also use its distribution capabilities to offer Disney’s direct-to-consumer services to all its customers – in particular its large broadband-only customer base – for purchase at retail rates. These include Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, as well as The Disney Bundle.
Effective immediately, Spectrum TV will provide its customers widespread access to a more curated lineup of 19 networks from The Walt Disney Company. Spectrum will continue to carry the ABC Owned Television Stations, Disney Channel, FX and the Nat Geo Channel, in addition to the full suite of ESPN networks. However, there are some channels that will no longer be included in Spectrum TV video packages, such as: Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild, and Nat Geo Mundo.
As the two companies were unable to agree on a new deal, The Walt Disney Company’s channels were blacked out for nearly 15 million Spectrum subscribers in the evening of August 31. The blackout had impacted some high-profile sporting events including the US Open, and arrived on the heels of the NFL's debut, which increased the pressure for both sides to reach a deal.