Were you watching the US Open on Thursday evening only for ESPN to infuriatingly cut off? You weren’t alone.
Spectrum customers were collateral victims of a dispute between Charter Communications (which owns Spectrum) and Disney. Negotiations between the cable company and the media giant broke down, and Disney subsequently blocked Disney-owned channels like ESPN, ABC, FX, Freeform, and National Geographic. Even the US Open organization chimed in.
As you may have seen if you were watching one of these channels, Spectrum blames Disney. In a message displayed on screens in lieu of programming, Spectrum said, “We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase.”
But Disney says their terms are reasonable. “Disney Entertainment 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,” the company said in a statement to Mashable.
Disney has pulled this move before. In October, 2022, it blocked its channels from Dish satellite TV subscribers. In 2021, it did the same with YouTube TV. Both disputes were eventually resolved, but the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
The crux of the negotiation comes down to bundling cable channels. Disney wants Charter to carry all of its channels and demands a higher fee for network support. Charter is refusing to carry Disney’s bundle of channels at a higher premium. In their words, Disney wants “to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages [customers] to take and pay for channels you may not want.” With Disney streaming revenue way down, it’s playing hardball to try and make some money back — at the expense of viewers.
Both Disney and Charter have said they’re committed to reaching a fair deal. But in the meantime, Spectrum customers will have to find another way to watch their favorite channels.
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