New Disney-Charter Deal Includes Streaming Services

The Walt Disney Co. and Charter Communications reached a new distribution agreement, that avoids a potentially costly blackout and could give Charter subscribers easier access to Disney streaming services including the upcoming Disney+.

Charter will continue to carry Disney’s owned TV stations and cable networks including ESPN, Disney Channel, and the FX and National Geographic channels.

Charter has also agreed to carry the ACC Network, featuring college sports and other programming from the Atlantic Coast Conference, when it launches on Aug. 22.

The companies said the deal “contemplates Charter’s future distribution of Disney’s streaming services.”

“This agreement will allow Spectrum to continue delivering to its customers popular Disney content, makes possible future distribution by Spectrum of Disney streaming services, and will begin an important collaborative effort to address the significant issue of piracy mitigation,” said Tom Montemagno, executive VP, programming acquisition, for Charter.

Those direct-to-consumer products--including Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu--have traditional distributors concerned because they could encourage cord cutting. There is also worry that with Disney prioritizing streaming, the programming on its cable networks could be diluted.

Disney and Charter will work together to implement business rules and techniques to address such issues as unauthorized access and password sharing in order to discourage piracy.

“Our new agreement with Charter allows us to continue serving Spectrum TV customers with the full value of the Walt Disney Television and ESPN networks, including the newly acquired FX and Nat Geo networks," said Sean Breen, senior VP, Disney Media Distribution. "ACC fans can also rest assured that they will be able to watch their favorite teams on Spectrum, one of the largest distributors across the ACC footprint, when ACC Network launches next week.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.