Dispute Between Disney, Charter Communications Settled

Disney Pulls Channels Including ESPN and ABC, From Charter Spectrum Cable Service Over Fees Dispute

Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images News / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The dispute between Disney and Charter Communications that led to ESPN, ABC and the Disney Channel being pulled from Spectrum cable service ended Monday, just in time for the Monday Night Football game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and Charter Communications CEO Chris Winfrey issued a joint statement Monday morning, saying "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."

In addition to returning channels such as ABC and ESPN to Spectrum's service, the new deal will also provide basic ad-supported Disney+ streaming service to Spectrum TV Select package customers. ESPN+ will be provided to customers who subscribe to the Spectrum TV Select Plus package.

The agreement, however, removes several Disney channels from the Spectrum lineup -- Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo.

The distribution dispute began on Aug. 31 when Dinsey pulled its channels from Spectrum cable, leaving nearly 15 million subscribers without access to channels such as ESPN and ABC. The move came just as college and pro football seasons were beginning, and the U.S. Open tennis tournament was in full swing.

The Monday Night Football games are broadcast on ESPN.

Charter officials said at the time that Disney was "demanding an excessive increase" in the amount the company pays to carry the entertainment giant's channels on the cable system. Disney insisted its demands are "driven by the marketplace."

In the days that followed, little movement occurred, suggesting the stalemate could extend for weeks. Winfrey suggested in earlier remarks that the dispute could foretell an end of Charter's interest in video services altogether, noting the growing impact of streaming services.

He reiterated that possibility during an investor call on Thursday, noting that many customers looking to recover ESPN and other Disney programming have likely jumped to other services such as Hulu or YouTube TV, meaning the ones that remain with Spectrum would be the ones who wind up paying for the higher costs of the channels when an agreement was reached.

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