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Disney, Charter reach distribution deal ahead of ‘Monday Night Football’

Walt Disney and Charter Communications said on Monday they have reached a deal that will see the media giant’s programming including ESPN return to the Spectrum cable service just hours ahead of the start of NFL “Monday Night Football.”

News of the potential deal eased some fears that the traditional cable TV bundle, long a profit-engine for media companies, could be nearing its end, sending shares up across the board. The dispute has rocked the sector in recent weeks, with some analysts saying it could determine the future of television in the streaming era.

“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,” Disney CEO Robert Iger and Charter CEO Chris Winfrey said in a joint statement.

Disney shares rose 1.7% while Charter was up 2.4%. Rival media companies Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global gained 2.3% and 2%, respectively.

ESPN, ABC and other Disney channels disappeared from Charter’s cable service on Aug. 31 after the companies failed to reach an agreement over channel fees and how to package them.

That deprived nearly 15 million subscribers to Charter’s Spectrum TV service access to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, college football and other programming.

Under the agreement, Charter will be able to offer subscribers of its most popular package, Spectrum TV Select, access to the ad-supported version of the Disney+ service, one of its key demands in negotiations. However, it will pay Disney a wholesale rate to do so.

Charter also will be able to provide ESPN+ to customers who subscribe to its sports-focused Spectrum TV Select Plus plan. Once the Disney’s flagship ESPN network is available as a streaming service, it also will be available to these Spectrum subscribers.

The nation’s second-largest cable operator also begin offering Disney’s ad-free streaming services, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney’s bundle, to its 32 million broadband customers.

Under the agreement, Spectrum customers in New York and Los Angeles will once again be able to watch programming through Disney-owned ABC stations, just in time for the NFL season’s inaugural Monday Night Football game featuring the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

Other popular Disney-owned networks, including Disney Channel, FX and the NatGeo Channel, will return after a more than week-long blackout, in addition to a full suite of ESPN networks. Through Spectrum will no longer carry Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freefor, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild or Nat Geo Mundo.

Source : Reuters



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