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Charter Spectrum customers, unfortunately, got caught up in Charter Communications’ dispute with Disney.
Reuters reports Disney let Charter Communications and its customers know it was not playing when it pulled several channels, including ESPN and ABC, over an unresolved distribution agreement.
The move left Spectrum customers in massive markets like New York and Los Angeles in the dark and during significant sporting events like the return of College Football and the U.S. Open.
Charter Spectrum serves more than 32 million customers in 41 states and was paying Disney roughly $2.2 billion in annual programming costs.
Charter flashed a message on screen that urged viewers to contact Disney. “We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase,” it read.
“The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices, and we are fighting to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by companies like Disney.”
The dispute is mainly over sports network ESPN, which does not have a streaming service and is a big cable attraction despite losing subscribers each year to cord-cutting.
This Dispute Could Push Disney Into A Direct-to-Consumer Model
As expected, the “unresolved distribution” between the two companies is hurting both company’s stock prices. Reuters reports Spectrum’s shares fell 2% after losing what it describes as the “lynchpin” of its video service in ESPN.
Disney’s shares fell to 2.7%, joining other media companies, Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global, which lost between 4% and 6% thanks to down numbers on their streaming platforms.
The website further reports if this dispute continues, it could speed up the House of The Mouse’s direct-to-consumer ambitions. Returning CEO Bob Iger said the company is actively searching for a “strategic partner” to start a joint venture or purchase a stake in the sports network to bring it directly to customers.
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