Disney,TWC Strike Carriage Deal, Includes Disney Jr., ESPN3


After weeks of high-profile public squabbling, Disney-ABC Television and Time Warner Cable have reached a carriage agreement for all Disney cable and broadcast properties -- as well as for new Web-based sports channels.

The long-term agreement, which includes deals for the Bright House brand of cable systems, is for all Disney-ABC networks and stations -- ABC stations, which run the ABC network, as well as Disney's suite of cable brands, such as ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family.

The deal also includes Disney's Web-based sports network ESPN3.com -- Disney has already crafted deals for it with cable operators. The Time Warner-Bright House-Disney deal also includes Disney Junior, the new preschool network being launched in 2012 from the remains of the departing Disney-ABC cable network, SoapNet. The pact also touts expanded video-on-demand offerings.



Terms were not disclosed. But analysts say Disney had been looking for at least 50 cents per cable subscriber per month from Time Warner for its ABC television stations, and anywhere from 5% to 10% affiliate fee price increases for its cable channels.

ESPN is the priciest cable network for cable operators, getting an estimated $4 per cable subscriber per month; Disney Channel gets about 90 cents a month per cable subscriber, according to estimates.

A key element of the deal was for ESPN3.com. Reports say Disney-ABC wanted to get 10 cents per Web subscriber for ESPN3.com. The companies say the agreement gives Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks the rights to feature cleared content from ESPN3.com on its sports tier.

There is also an "authentication" agreement that allows traditional cable TV Time Warner/Bright House subscribers to watch Disney-ABC networks on Internet, mobile, and other digital services. Cable subscribers can watch linear networks, such as ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, through their Internet services as well as mobile Internet devices like an iPad.

Cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner want cable subscribers to be "authenticated" --- as paying cable customers, under their so-called 'TV Everywhere' plans. Cable companies don't want consumers in their areas getting Disney programming for free on the Internet, for example.

The deal also gives Time Warner Cable and Bright House exclusive access to a new service -- called ESPN Goal Line. The channel is a super-highlight network -- live and taped highlights -- focusing on the NCAA football season that will be available as early as Sept. 4. A similar service called ESPN Buzzer Beater will be available for the college basketball season.

The expired deal comes as the new broadcast season is about to commence for the ABC network, and just before high-profile sports programming on ESPN, such as the NFL and college football.

This story has been updated.

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