Charter Spectrum cable has dropped more than 25 networks — including ABC, ESPN, the Disney Channel, FX, and National Geographic — due to the failure of Disney and the cable carrier to reach a new carriage pact. Spectrum provides cable-TV service to almost 15 million people in New York, Los Angeles, and other metro areas.
Disney channels went dark on Spectrum on Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. PT. Variety reports, “The blackout began during a highly anticipated match-up between Carlos Alcaraz and Lloyd Harris at the U.S. Open, which ESPN had been broadcasting. The timing couldn’t be worse for college football fans, coming on the opening weekend of the season. ESPN has a broad slate of college games set for Thursday and Saturday.”
Spectrum Cable Gives a New Meaning To “Cutting The Cord” Spectrum Cable
More and more customers have ditched cable TV providers such as Spectrum in favor of streaming services, and blackouts like the current Disney situation only expedite the process. Charter said in a statement posted on Variety, “The Walt Disney Company has removed their programming from Spectrum which creates hardship for our customers. We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase. They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want. Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice. The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices and we are fighting hard to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by companies like Disney. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Disney responded, “We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Charter Communications for some time and have not yet agreed to a new market-based agreement As a result, their Spectrum TV subscribers no longer have access to our unrivaled portfolio of live sporting events and news coverage plus kids, family and general entertainment programming. 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.”
Charter released a second statement, saying:
“We are disappointed with the Walt Disney Company’s decision to remove their networks from our lineup and deny our customers the opportunity to watch. We would agree to the Walt Disney Company’s significant rate increase despite their declining ratings. But they are trying to force our customers to pay for their very expensive programming, even those customers who don’t want it or worse, can’t afford it.”
Taking a swipe at Disney's alleged “declining ratings” won't help the two sides reach an agreement sooner. Also, ratings seem to have no effect on the fluctuating “broadcast TV” surcharge on every Spectrum cable bill, cited by many as a reason to cut the cord. Streaming packages such as Hulu + Live TV, a Disney property, do not include a broadcast fee on every bill.
Charter Spectrum's statement concludes, “The current video ecosystem is broken. With the Walt Disney Company, we have proposed a model that creates better alignment for the industry and better choices for our customers. We are hopeful we can find a path forward.”
UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, Disney and Charter's Spectrum settled the carriage dispute that left 15 million cable customers without access to ABC, ESPN, and other Disney channels. The agreement took place hours before the first Monday Night Football game of the season on ESPN.
“Our collective goal has always been to build an innovative model for the future,” Disney CEO Robert Iger and Charter CEO Chris Winfrey said in a joint statement. “This deal recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services while addressing the evolving needs of our customers.”