Disney and Charter Communications on Monday agreed to end a squabble that blacked out ESPN and ABC to nearly 15 million subscribers — hours before the kickoff of “Monday Night Football.”
The cable TV giant — one of the largest in the country, which operates Spectrum cable — cut a new agreement over carriage fees after being locked in a standoff with Disney for nearly two weeks.
The new deal will allow Charter to offer the Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming services to its pay-TV subscribers in exchange for paying a higher carriage fee for Disney’s channels.
The agreement came hours before the “Monday Night Football” opener on ESPN — a much-anticipated battle between the New York Jets, featuring new quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the Buffalo Bills.
The dispute, which began Aug. 31, had caused Spectrum’s subscribers in major markets including New York and Los Angeles to miss the run to the US Open tennis title by teenager Coco Gauff.
As part of the deal, the Disney+ Basic advertising-supported offering will be provided to customers who purchase the Spectrum TV Select package.
Additionally, streaming service 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.
Charter said it will maintain “flexibility” to offer “a range of video packages at varying price points based upon different customer viewing preferences.”
Several Disney-owned channels — including Freeform, Disney Junior, Disney XD, FXX, and Nat Geo Wild — will no longer be carried by Spectrum, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Disney CEO Bob Iger and Charter CEO Chris Winfrey issued a joint statement Monday after ending the impasse.
“Our collective goal has always been to build an innovative model for the future,” they said.
“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,” they added.
Charter and Disney’s stocks, as well as media rivals including Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global, traded higher on Monday morning on the news.
Amid the public tussle, the Mouse House urged customers to subscribe to Hulu + Live TV, in order to gain access to programming from ABC and ESPN.
The Charter/Disney battle comes as cable providers scramble to keep customers from cutting the cord, and media companies push to expand their streaming offerings to capture new subscribers.