Charter Communications and The Walt Disney Company have inked a comprehensive, multi-year carriage renewal agreement that spans more than 20 cable channels and “contemplates” Charter’s future distribution of Disney’s streaming services, including Hulu, ESPN+ and the soon-to-come Disney+.
Charter’s Spectrum TV residential broadband services will continue to provide customers with access to ABC, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, and the networks newly acquired in Disney’s 21st Century Fox buy: FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Life, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, and BabyTV.
Spectrum customers will also have access to ESPN’s ACC Network, featuring Atlantic Coast Conference college football games, when it launches on August 22.
The companies also agreed to cooperate to implement anti-piracy business rules and techniques to address unauthorized access and password sharing.
Charter and other MVPDs have been taking tougher-than-ever stances in carriage negotiations with cable programmers, as content producers move to go direct-to-consumer with streaming business models.
But the Disney-Charter deal appears to strike a potentially precedent-setting balance of needs.
Disney’s premium content can help Charter keep and attract pay-TV subscribers as cord-cutting accelerates, and Disney’s streaming services can benefit from expanded reach via Charter.
“The agreement sets a blueprint for Disney to provide incentives to Charter to market Disney+ and ESPN+ as stand-alone broadband offerings — given that premium content offerings can be a way to help Charter market its broadband service,” notes Variety. “It also allows for future discussions about Charter integrating both apps into its latest set-top boxes, as Comcast has done with Netflix.”