Spectrum, Disney reach deal to bring ESPN, other networks back to cable boxes

Sep. 11—Spectrum cable and Disney have struck a deal to bring the entertainment giant's ESPN sports network back to customers just hours before the first game of Monday Night Football this season.

In a statement issued midday Monday, the two companies announced they had struck a deal they called "transformative," which will see more of Disney's streaming services offered in Spectrum TV packages, while dropping a number of Disney-owned channels from cable TV lineups.

The two companies had parted ways for just over two weeks, with Spectrum's parent company Charter demanding more access to Disney-owned streaming services as part of their carriage deal. Company officials argued they were unwilling to pay to access just part of Disney's entertainment ecosystem while supporting the company's efforts to pillage cable customers entirely. Charter even threatened to leave cable TV entirely in pursuit of other video entertainment options on a conference call with Wall Street investors over the issue.

Under the new deal, whose financial details were not immediately disclosed on Monday, Spectrum will offer its cable customers on the Select plan access to basic, ad-supported accounts on Disney-owned streaming services Disney+ and ESPN+. An upcoming ESPN direct-to-customer service will also be packaged with Spectrum TV Select subscriptions.

Spectrum will also retain the ability to offer TV subscriptions that don't include Disney products, a major sticking point when the companies broke off their agreement last month.

Spectrum will also advertise and offer access to Disney direct-to-customer streaming services across its internet-only plans as well.

Spectrum cable television will now offer 19 networks from Disney, like the ABC networks, Disney Channel, FX, ESPN's lineup and National Geographic. However, the company is cutting networks like Disney Junior and Disney XD, Baby TV, Freeform (formerly ABC Family), Fxm and FXX, Nat Geo Wild and Spanish-language Nat Geo Mundo.

Additionally, the companies said they had reaffirmed a commitment to "mitigate the effects of unauthorized password sharing."

Robert A. Iger, CEO of Disney and Chris Winfrey, Charter's CEO, issued a joint statement recognizing the deal, calling it 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," they said in a joint statement. "We also want to thank our mutual customers for their patience this past week, and are pleased that Spectrum viewers once again have access to Disney's high-quality sports, news and entertainment programming, in time for Monday Night Football."

New York Governor Kathleen C. Hochul, who last week made a point to publicly call on Charter and Disney to come to an agreement, continue offering Disney-owned channels to New York subscribers, and for Charter to issue refunds to its customers, lauded the news of the deal.

"Just in time for Monday night football and the Bills and Jets starting their seasons tonight, I'm pleased that Disney and Charter have resolved their corporate dispute and resumed service for more than 1.5 million New York customers that lost access to ESPN and Disney-owned channels," she said. "My administration will ensure that New Yorkers receive a refund for the days they were without service, holding true to our commitment that we will always prioritize consumer protection."