Disney, Charter Push Pay TV Alternatives During Heated Carriage Contract Dispute

Amid tense carriage-deal standoff negotiations -- and an existing blackout of TV networks/stations -- Charter Communications and Disney Entertainment are each aggressively pushing alternatives for video consumers left in the lurch as the new fall TV season is about to start.

Disney is advocating in the press -- and on its Walt Disney investor website -- for consumers to buy a subscription to its virtual pay TV service, Hulu + Live TV.

Messaging on the Walt Disney investor website says: “Take control of how you watch. You don’t need a cable provider to watch your favorite live sports, news and shows.” This comes against a green background that has been a theme of its brand campaign for some time.

For its part, Charter is “preparing a one-touch QR code that would not only create a new YouTube TV or Fubo subscription but would also downgrade from a Spectrum video bundle with a single click,” according to note last week by Craig Moffett, senior media analyst and co-founder of MoffettNathanson Research.



YouTube TV and Fubo TV are competitors to Charter's Spectrum-branded pay TV service.

This time of year, major sporting events are always programmed -- including the U.S. Open tennis event on ESPN as well as the start of college football (on ESPN and ABC). This coming week the NFL begins its new season.

ABC Television Network, ABC local TV stations, ESPN and up to dozen Disney networks have been blacked out since last week over a carriage-negotiation stalemate affecting Charter's 14.7 million pay TV consumers. Charter is the second largest pay TV provider in the U.S.

While some of this marketing activity before when it comes to blackouts and contract negotiations between video distributors and TV networks, analysts believe this blackout is unlike any other that has happened before.

“For Charter, the uncomfortable truth is that it just doesn’t matter all that much,” says Moffett.  “Yes, they probably still make some money on video. But not much, and they recognize that linear video is going to be a rapidly declining line of service under even the most optimistic scenarios.”

Others believe a more radical change is coming quickly, with Charter seemingly ready to take an unprecedented move -- dropping Disney channels, stations, and cable networks entirely. 

Pay TV providers -- including cable TV operators -- have witnessed the alarming growth of "cord-cutting" -- customers dropping traditional pay TV service --  over the last 10 years. They believe the business is moving to a different state of affairs, with the augur of profitability sinking quickly.

TV networks have been steadily moving to transition many legacy TV businesses to streaming platforms.

The title of Charter’s webcast about the industry and its dealing with Disney on Friday seems to suggest that a major, serious change is coming to its video consumer business: “The Future of Multichannel Video: Moving Forward... Or Moving On."

1 comment about "Disney, Charter Push Pay TV Alternatives During Heated Carriage Contract Dispute".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 5, 2023 at 3:50 p.m.

    MVPD and vMVPD are not functional equivalents. My MVPD Spectrum/Charter pay cable service has a dedicated DVR and cable box where I can switch back and forth between shows. Streaming vMVPD services like Hulu Hulu + Live or YouTube have a cloud DVR and often much less back-and-forth viewing capability. Standalone DVRs let you skip commercials. Virtual DVRs might only let you skip what the providers deem appropriate to their business model. I also deal with Disney+ forcing me to watch all the credits of a program before I can stream the next episode.

    Why is Disney not the villain in this dispute? Do people hate cable companies so much that they are blind to who's withholding shows?

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