Disney Bites Back in Spectrum TV Dispute

Disney statement Spectrum fight

On August 31, millions of Spectrum TV customers saw their televisions go dark. That’s because The Walt Disney Company pulled all of its content from Spectrum — which is owned by Charter Communications — after the two sides could not come to an agreement on a new contract. Spectrum TV has more than 32 million subscribers who are no longer able to watch some of their favorite channels. In addition to the Disney Channel, they do not have access to Disney-owned ABC News stations, FreeForm, FX, National Geographic, and the big one, ESPN.

Disney ESPN partnership

Credit: ESPN

Immediately after Disney pulled its content, Spectrum released a statement saying that it was fighting for its customers. The next day, Spectrum executives admitted that losing Disney Entertainment permanently could have a major impact on its business. However, they also said that they were willing to “blow up” Disney’s television bundle, since Disney is moving so much of its content onto its own streaming services.

The Walt Disney Company has removed their programming from Spectrum. Spectrum is on your side and fighting hard to resolve this situation and keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice. We apologize for the inconvenience. Learn More:

Charter Communications and Spectrum TV have laid the blame solely at Disney’s feet. They claimed that Disney is trying to force Spectrum customers to pay for channels they may not want. Charter said they did not want to be forced into that position.

“We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase,” Charter Spectrum said in a note to customers. “They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want. The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices, and we are fighting hard to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by companies like Disney.”

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

But now, Disney is fighting back.

On Friday, September 1, Disney released a statement stating that they had offered Charter “the most favorable terms on rates, distribution, packaging, advertising and more.” The company also said that it was willing to work with Spectrum to make its direct-to-consumer content available to Spectrum TV subscribers, but their offer was rejected.

Disney also stated that Charter expects to get some of its content for free, despite telling Disney how valuable its content is.

“Although Charter claims to value our direct-to-consumer services, they are demanding these services for free as they have stated publicly,. Charter is depriving consumers of that content because they are failing to ascribe any value in exchange for licensing those services….

Our linear channels and direct-to-consumer services are not one and the same, per Charter’s assertions, but rather complementary products. We continue to invest in original content that premieres exclusively on our linear networks, including live sports, news and appointment viewing programming….

Charter’s actions are a disservice to consumers ahead of the kickoff for the college football season on ABC and ESPN’s networks. We value our relationship with Charter and we are ready to get back to the negotiation table to restore access to our unrivaled content to their customers as quickly as possible.”

General Hospital

Credit: ABC

We do not yet know how long the two companies will remain at an impasse. Spectrum TV risks losing millions of subscribers to competitors like YouTube TV, Sling TV, or Time Warner Cable if they cannot make a deal soon. However, Disney is not looking any better to those who are already annoyed at the company for its price increases to its streamers, Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu.

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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