Disney pulled its programming from Charter Spectrum on Thursday night, even as the Disney-owned ESPN networks were covering major live sporting events such as the US Open and college football.
Amid a broken “video ecosystem,” Charter Communications said, “Disney — so far — has insisted on a traditional long-term deal with higher rates and limited packaging flexibility,” in a presentation provided before an investor webcast. “Disney declined our proposal and pulled its video channels from Charter’s video customers on August 31,” it added.
The cable provider contends that the proposal from the media conglomerate would amount to a significant cost increase for subscribers who would also be saddled with channels they might not want to watch. That sort of arrangement between channel owners and cable providers has been the norm for decades, but the rise of the streaming model has brought new pressures for both.
Charter says it has 14.7 million video subscribers on its website.
Disney Entertainment said in a statement that it “has successful deals in place with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and the rates and terms we are seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace. We’re committed to reaching a mutually agreed upon resolution with Charter and we urge them to work with us to minimize the disruption to their customers.”
The dispute left hanging fans of sports like the football game between the University of Florida and the University of Utah, or the match between No. 1 men’s tennis player Carlos Alcaraz and Lloyd Harris in the second round of the US Open on ESPN.
“We’re very disappointed for our fans and viewers around the country that Spectrum and Charter could not resolve their dispute with Disney, resulting in a loss of ESPN coverage of Thursday night’s matches,” US Open Tennis posted to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “We’re hopeful that this dispute can be resolved as quickly as possible.”
Disagreements over carriage fees are not new, especially as cord-cutting and streaming have eaten into the traditional cable business — sometimes even becoming ugly disputes, although Disney had to resolve a conflict with streaming service YouTube TV in 2021.
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