Update: BURBANK & NEW YORK, Sep 02, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Disney/ABC Television Group, ESPN and Time Warner Cable today entered into a long-term, wide-ranging agreement that will provide Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks cable customers the programming of ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, and SOAPnet, as well as WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville, WTVG in Toledo, and associated HD cable networks. Subscribers will also have unprecedented digital access to online content and expanded Video On Demand services.
Time Warner Cable’s agreement to air Disney-owned channels such as ESPN, the Disney Channel and some ABC local stations expires after midnight on September 2, 2010. The two sides are negotiating over fees Time Warner Cable must pay Disney to air the channels. If the two sides don’t reach a deal, it’s possible consumers could lose ESPN and other Disney-owned networks, including Disney Channel and ABC Family.
Time Warner Cable is the second-largest U.S. cable company with 12.8 million TV subscribers, including in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Time Warner Cable has argued that they need to ‘get tough’ in these negotiations.
Earlier this year, a TV-fee dispute between Disney and Cablevision Systems Corp. resulted in some New York-area households losing Disney TV channels, including part of the Academy Awards telecast on ABC.
Disney has launched a website which seeks to give consumers ‘the facts’ about how they could be affected should the two sides be unable to strike a new agreement by September 2.
Verizon’s already scaring users in several markets into thinking they need to switch to FiOS TV or they’ll lose access to Disney programming. Verizon’s obviously taking advantage of the kind of ugly carriage disputes we’ve seen in recently, but this is a particularly bold and premature move by Verizon, as companies scuffle over existing customers.
Time Warner Cable has launched their own website, just as they did when they were negotiating with FOX. Their website was designed to rile up their customers so they’d contact Fox and complain.
There surely will be some very disgruntled NFL fans if there isn’t a deal in place by September, as ESPN carries the Monday Night Football games. And fans of The Oscars will be bummed out because the awards ceremony is aired on ABC.
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