Disney and Charter Communications on Monday ended their dispute that resulted in channels like ESPN and ABC being blocked from nearly 15 million subscribers, hours before the start of “Monday Night Football.”
Charter, one of the largest cable networks in the United States, has been in a standoff with Disney for nearly two weeks over how much its channels are worth and how it should package them.
The new deal allows Charter to offer Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming services to its pay-TV subscribers in exchange for paying a higher carriage fee for Disney channels.
Disney CEO Bob Iger and Charter CEO Chris Winfrey issued a joint statement Monday.
“Our common goal has always been to create an innovative model for the future,” they said.
“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 would also like to thank our mutual customers for their patience over the past week and are pleased that Spectrum viewers will once again have access to Disney’s quality sports, news and entertainment programming in time for Monday Night Football,” they added.
The resulting dispute, which began on August 31, led to ESPN, ABC and other Disney channels disappearing from Charter’s Spectrum cable service, preventing subscribers from watching major sporting events such as the US Open tennis tournament and college football -Watch games.
The deal comes hours before the first broadcast of “Monday Night Football” this season, pitting the Aaron Rodgers-led Jets against the Buffalo Bills on the Disney-owned television network ESPN.
Under the agreement, the ad-supported Disney+ Basic offering will be made available to customers who purchase the Spectrum TV Select package under a wholesale agreement.
Additionally, the ESPN+ streaming service will be made available to Spectrum TV Select Plus subscribers, and ESPN’s flagship direct-to-consumer service will be made available to Spectrum TV Select subscribers upon launch. Charter said it would maintain the “flexibility” to offer “a range of video packages at different price points based on customers’ different viewing preferences.”
Charter and Disney stocks, as well as media rivals such as Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global, traded higher Monday morning on the news.
At the heart of the dispute was what a revised deal between Charter and Disney would entail. Charter executives had called for a deal that would give Spectrum pay-TV customers free access to Disney’s ad-supported streaming apps Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.
Disney countered, adding that its streaming and TV networks are not equal because of the original content that airs exclusively on live TV and its billion-dollar investments in exclusive streaming content.
Amid the public spat, the Mouse House urged customers to subscribe to Hulu + Live TV to gain access to programming from ABC and ESPN.
The battle between Charter and Disney comes at a time when cable providers are struggling to keep customers from cutting the cord and media companies are pushing to expand their streaming offerings to attract new subscribers.