Disney and Charter Communications have reached a deal to restore access to popular channels including ABC and ESPN to the cable provider’s subscribers, ending a week-long dispute. The deal was made just hours prior to “Monday Night Football,” which airs on Disney-owned ESPN.
Disney channels were pulled from Charter stations over Labor Day weekend, as the two companies were unable to agree on a new deal. Millions of Charter’s Spectrum customers were prohibited from accessing Disney content, including channels like National Geographic and FX.
Disney announced the deal on Monday in a press release, calling it a “transformative, multiyear distribution agreement that maximizes value for consumers and supports the linear TV experience as the industry continues to evolve.” Disney noted that the “majority” of their networks will be immediately restored for Spectrum customers.
In a joint statement, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Charter Communications CEO Chris Winfrey 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.”
While the dispute was ongoing, Disney encouraged consumers to scrap their cable subscriptions in favor of the company’s direct-to-consumer service, Hulu with Live TV. The service is available for $69.99 per month and offers 90 live channels that range from sports to entertainment.
According to CNBC, the terms of the deal between Disney and Charter include a “discounted wholesale price for subscribers,” for Disney’s streaming services, and an “increase in marketplace, or subscriber fees, paid to Disney.”
While carriage disputes between cable providers and networks are not uncommon, the nature of the dispute between Disney and Charter, and the subsequent blackout marked a monumental moment for pay-TV, displaying the brokenness of the industry.
Last week, Charter CEO Chris Winfrey apologized to his company’s 14.7 million subscribers for the programming disruption. “We all have a sense of urgency to resolve it quickly because our customers are stuck in the middle,” he said during an investor conference hosted by Goldman Sachs on Thursday.
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