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Spectrum Wants to “Blow Up” TV Deal With Disney

Spectrum Disney TV bundle

If your cable provider is Spectrum TV, then you may have noticed that on the evening of August 31, 2023, all Disney and Disney-owned channels ceased to be. If you were watching a football game, then the screen may have cut to black in the middle of it. This is not because there was some power outage or because there was a problem with Spectrum. It was because Disney pulled everything they owned off of Spectrum TV, leaving customers who were paying a premium price in the dust.

Monday Night Football

Credit: ESPN

Spectrum was quick to blame The Walt Disney Company and said that they were going to fight for their customers to get the content back while keeping the prices down. Spectrum and Disney had been trying to negotiate a contract, but could not come to an agreement.

And now Spectrum is going all in and willing to blow things up.

prom pact poster with disney channel logo

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spectrum executives have said that if Disney keeps playing hardball, they will drop their video business completely. They said that they had been working to come to a deal with Disney, but if they couldn’t, they would focus solely on everything but its video service.

“We’re on the edge of a precipice. We’re either moving forward with a new collaborative video model, or we’re moving on,” Charter CEO Chris Winfrey said on a conference call with Wall Street analysts Friday morning. “This is not a typical carriage dispute. It’s significant for Charter, and we think it’s even more significant for programmers and the broader video ecosystem.”

Triton and Ursula Ariel

Credit: Disney

A big part of the problem, according to Spectrum, is that Disney is moving a lot of its content to “direct to consumer” models, i.e. streaming. Disney already owns Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, and is working on a new way to stream ESPN. What will that leave companies like Spectrum with?

“We respect the quality product that Disney produces and its management team. But the video ecosystem is broken,” Winfrey adds.

“For us, we are at a crossroads, economic indifference really, with our video product offering and Disney is at a crossroads with its DTC apps and traditional linear TV strategy,” adds Rich DiGeronimo, Charter’s president of product and technology.

ABC News Nightline

Credit: ABC

Spectrum CFO Jessica Fischer did admit that the loss of Disney would be an incredible blow to the company. Fischer said that about 25% of Spectrum’s customers “regularly interact” with Disney content and, of that, 50% “highly interact” with Disney content. She also said that Spectrum would look into deals with companies like Apple TV and Roku if its loss of Disney content became permanent.

Dancing With the Stars

Credit: ABC

With all of that being said, it’s possible that Spectrum might not be at a complete loss. Disney CEO Bob Iger has admitted that Disney entertainment’s linear television programming, like ABC, is rapidly decreasing. He has said that he is considering selling Disney’s linear holdings, which would be about one-third of the company. Should that happen, it’s possible that whoever buys the networks could make a new deal with Spectrum.

Spectrum TV is not the only cable provider at risk. If Disney chooses to focus more on its own streaming services to show its content, then other providers could soon find themselves having to explain to customers. Streamers like YouTube TV and Sling TV could be at risk. Also at risk could be cable providers like Time Warner Cable.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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