NEW YORK (AP) — Both sides in a dispute that left nearly 15 million cable TV subscribers without ESPN or other networks affiliated with The Walt Disney Co. direct customers to other services where they can watch television.
The offers speak to the unusual nature of the business dispute between Disney and Charter Communications, and do not provide for a quick resolution.
Charter tells its Spectrum TV customers about a special deal being offered by the Fubo live television streaming service to get two months with discounts of 25% or 30% depending on the plan.
“I’ve covered transportation disputes for more years than I care to remember, and I don’t recall a TV provider ever offering its customers a discount to another TV provider during a channel outage,” wrote journalist Phillip Swann, leading tv answer man. .com.
Spectrum had no comment on Tuesday on the implications of the offer.
Disney, meanwhile, is also offering upset Spectrum customers online links to sign up for other services, such as Hulu, Fubo, Sling, and YouTubeTV. A Disney representative said “discussions are continuing” with Charter and there were no other updates.
The business battle resulted in ESPN, ABC, FX, National Geographic and Disney-branded stations abruptly going dark Thursday night for Charter’s Spectrum TV subscribers. ABC-TV was also discontinued in seven markets, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Carrier disputes, involving what cable or satellite customers will pay to offer specific networks on their systems, are not uncommon.
Still, Charter argues that the number of people who have canceled their cable subscriptions in recent years means the industry is changing rapidly, and any new deal should reflect that. It wants Disney to give customers more flexibility to limit “bundling,” forcing them to pay for networks they don’t necessarily want. It also wants Disney to offer its ad-supported streaming services for free as part of the deal, saying it has moved some of its best TV shows to streaming.
Charter, which has both broadband and cable customers, anticipates a day when ESPN transitions to a direct-to-consumer streaming service, Lightshed Partners analyst Rich Greenfield said.
“Could this ultimately be a turning point for the linear TV business, which is also blowing up the entire sports media ecosystem?” Greenfield wrote in an analysis. “Certainly. However, we’ve been through enough of these fights to know that they usually end in an agreement.”