DirecTV, Disney Reach Expansive Carriage Agreement

DirecTV and The Walt Disney Co. have reached a new multiyear carriage accord, encompassing linear network renewals, as well as a host of on-demand and streaming content.

The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, includes the Watch Disney suite of products, which has represented the last significant hole in the programmer’s TV Everywhere initiative. It also includes online and streaming content from Disney apps and services, including the SEC Network.

Continuing to negotiate after their 10-year pact expired on Sept. 30, the parties renewed carriage of Disney-owned broadcast stations. The agreement also covers the launch of Fusion, Longhorn Network, ESPN Goal Line and Buzzer Beater and comes as part of a flurry of activity on the carraige and retransmission consent front as the year draws to a close. Disney, which reached a comprehensive carriage deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative in August, inked a retransmission consent agreement with the co-op for its eight owned and operated ABC stations across the country on Dec. 22.

The companies said they would explore new over-the-top opportunities. Disney already has an agreement with Dish, with ESPN and ESPN2 expected to be part of the DBS provider’s upcoming over-the-top video service. DirecTV earlier this week began the soft launch of its previously announced over-the-top Spanish language video service – Ya Veo.  But the satellite giant has been expected to offer a more robust package of OTT programming at some point to compete with planned offerings next year from Dish, Sony, Verizon and possibly others.

“This new agreement brings DirecTV’s already unmatched content offering and experience to a whole new level.  It also allows both companies to evolve together into the future and gives DirecTV customers a wide range of in-home and out-of-home viewing options to enjoy the broad collection of ESPN, Disney and ABC content,” Dan York, chief content officer of DirecTV said in a statement. “It’s an immense and exciting undertaking to work together to shape the future of content consumption and the possibilities are endless.”

The DirecTV-Disney deal comes at a time when No. 2 DBS provider Dish has been battling with programmers, including 21st Century Fox and Turner Broadcasting. Back in November, the Turner networks went dark to Dish’s 14 million customers, but the two agreed to extend their deal into next year while negotiations continue. The No. 2 satellite TV service provider also pulled Fox News Channel and Fox Business News from customers Dec. 20 after it could not reach an accord with Fox. 

“We have a stellar reputation for working in close collaboration with our distribution partners to strengthen the value of the multichannel video subscription. Our new agreement with DirecTV reinforces that approach and brings to a successful conclusion the renewal over the past several years of deals with each of our top ten affiliates,” said  David Preschlack, executive vice presidenr, affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks,  “Not only will DirecTV customers continue to receive all the great content they currently have, but they will now be able to access it on digital platforms through our authenticated Watch products as well as receive new services as part of their subscription, including Fusion, Longhorn Network, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater and ESPN3 also on television.”

In addition the DirecTV pact includes Disney’s eight owned and operated ABC broadcast stations and cable networks ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS and SEC Network.  ESPN Classic will be reintroduced as a video-on-demand service. 

The deal also expands DirecTV’s video-on-demand capabilities, giving customers access to content inside and outside the home through DirecTV Everywhere on their computers, tablets and smartphones. VOD programming includes:

•       ABC On Demand, including episodes of current ABC shows as Scandal, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon A Time and Revenge.

•       ABC Family On Demand, featuring a variety of full episodes, refreshed monthly, including The Fosters, Switched at Birth, Baby Daddy and Melissa & Joey.

•       Disney-branded On Demand offerings, including Disney Channel On Demand, Disney Junior On Demand, and Disney XD On Demand. 

•       Expanded On Demand content from ESPN, including content from ESPN Deportes and ESPN’s award-winning original content from ESPN Films.