NEW YORK (AP) — Hours before the fall’s first “Monday Night Football” game, Disney and Charter Communications have settled a business dispute that had left some 15 million cable TV customers without ESPN and other Disney channels.
Disney said that because of the deal, the majority of its ESPN customers would have service restored to Charter’s Spectrum cable system immediately. Charter confirmed the deal Monday.
The agreement was announced hours before the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills were to debut their season on ESPN and ESPN2. It’s the first game for the Jets with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback, and many Spectrum customers are in the New York area.
Charter had sought access to Disney’s streaming services for its customers and, as part of the deal, both sides said that the Disney+ ad-supported service and ESPN+ would be offered to select Spectrum customers. They also said that ESPN’s direct-to-consumer service, which is still in the works, will be part of the Spectrum service.
Under the deal, Spectrum will offer its customers a lineup of 19 Disney-owned stations. Charter had sought greater flexibility to let its cable customers pick and choose which networks it wanted as part of their service.
Financial terms were not revealed.
“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 prepared, 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,” they said.
Many television viewers were less interested in the business particulars than they fact that they couldn’t watch ESPN during the U.S. Open tennis tournament and opening weekend of the college football season.
But the matchup Monday between the Buffalo Bills, one of the most powerful teams in the NFL, and the New York Jets led by new quarterback Aaron Rodgers, was another huge deadline.