Spectrum’s New Deal With Disney Ends Cable Blackout, Gives Customers Free Disney+ But Drops 8 Networks





Charter Communication’s Spectrum and Disney will bring back ESPN, FX and a few other channels back to the cable providers’ line up after the two sides struck an agreement to end a 12-day blackout. The new deal gives Disney+ for free to Spectrum subscribers, but drops a few of Disney’s networks.

The two sides announced the agreement after CNBC’s David Faber, who cited anonymous sources, broke the news, although LightShed analyst Rich Greenfield tweeted on Sunday he had heard that a deal would be reached ahead of Monday Night Football.

As part of the deal, Spectrum customers will get the ad-tier version of Disney+ for free “in the coming months” as part of a wholesale agreement. Spectrum TV Select Plus subscribers will also ESPN+ for free. The ESPN streaming service will be made available to Spectrum TV Select subscribers, but there’s no word on whether it will be a free add-on.

Key Disney-owned channels such as the ABC local stations, ESPN, FX, Disney Channel and Nat Geo Channel will also return. But Spectrum is dropping Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo.

The agreement ends the blackout, which has lasted through two weekends packed with sports, and has resulted in a bitter war of words between the companies. Caught in the middle were 14.7 million Spectrum subscribers who had no access to several sports channels just as college football, the NFL and the US Open were happening. The deal suggests both sides made compromises to get the programming back on air.

“Our collective goal has always been to build an innovative model for the future,” Charter CEO Chris Winfrey and Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a joint statement. “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.”

Charter had positioned the dispute as a defining moment where the cost of content needed to be redefined. It took issue with Disney attempting to raises the rates of its content while also positioning its own service to cut cable out. Winfrey had called the video ecosystem “broken” and urged Disney to work with it to reshape how it worked. Disney, meanwhile, had sought fair value for the content it produced. The key sticking point was ESPN and Disney’s insistence on including it in more cable packages than Spectrum wanted.

The fight got rough over the last 12 days, with Winfrey saying at the Goldman Sachs conference last week that he was willing to walk away from Disney, a scenario that analysts said would have been devastating to the media company and its key ESPN asset. Charter was the subject of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by Florida customers.

The deal appears to address some of Charter’s concerns, including offering Disney+ to customers and having access to the future ESPN streaming service. It also gets flexibility on the packages it offers, suggesting ESPN won’t be required in as many options.

Disney, meanwhile, will reportedly get a higher content fee, as well as another distribution channel to sell its streaming services. Spectrum has increasingly ramped up its broadband business, with some customers just opting for internet. Those customers mark potential subscribers for Disney’s services. Charter said that it would make Disney’s streaming services options, including its Disney bundle, which include Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, to its broadband only customers.

The companies also said they would work together to further crack down on password sharing.

Disclaimer: To address the growing use of ad blockers we now use affiliate links to sites like http://Amazon.com, streaming services, and others. Affiliate links help sites like Cord Cutters News, stay open. Affiliate links cost you nothing but help me support my family. We do not allow paid reviews on this site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from :

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.