Many sports fans got some rough news as they settled in to watch ESPN's big Week 1 kickoff matchup between Florida and Utah Thursday night. Amid a dispute over programming rates with Charter Communications, Disney has pulled ESPN's networks and a number of other channels, including some local ABC affiliates, from Spectrum TV, one of the nation's largest cable providers.
Yes, that's right, ESPN's networks are now blacked out for more than 30 million people who just want to get their sports news. The blackout went into effect at 8 p.m. ET and there is no end in sight for this dispute.
If you're a Spectrum customer and attempt to view one of the 26 blocked channels you get the following message:
The Walt Disney Company, the owner of this channel, has removed their programming from Spectrum which creates hardship for our customers.
We apologize for the inconvenience and are continuing to negotiate in good faith in order to reach a fair agreement.
We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase.
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.
Disney said the following in a statement provided to Deadline:
We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Charter Communications for some time and have not yet agreed to a new market-based agreement. As a result, their Spectrum TV subscribers no longer have access to our unrivaled portfolio of live sporting events and news coverage plus kids, family and general entertainment programming from the ABC Owned Television Stations, the ESPN networks, the Disney-branded channels, Freeform, the FX networks and the National Geographic channels. Disney Entertainment has successful deals in place with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and the rates and terms we are seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace. We’re committed to reaching a mutually agreed upon resolution with Charter and we urge them to work with us to minimize the disruption to their customers.
We'll see if this gets worked out.