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Disney Networks, including ESPN and ABC, go dark on Dish in carriage dispute

Disney’s 20-channel suite of television has been pulled from Dish Network and Sling TV satellite television services for customers across the US.

Disney networks no longer on Dish TV and Sling TV include ESPN, FX, Disney Channel, Freeform and National Geographic, as well as local ABC stations in eight markets. The two companies’ previous broadcast contract expired at midnight on September 30, Pacific Time. Dish is known in the pay-TV business for its aggressive negotiating tactics with content companies, and hasn’t been afraid to endure prolonged blackouts to try to get more favorable information. terms.

According to Dish, the media conglomerate had asked for a $1 billion increase in rates (although it’s unclear what that entails) and rejected the pay-TV operator’s offer for a contract extension. Dish accused Disney of initiating the blackout of the channel and “maintaining[ing] spectators as hostages to take advantage of the negotiation”.

Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution said Dish had rejected its “fair, market-based” offer to continue with the networks.

“After months of good faith negotiations, Dish has refused to enter into a fair, market-based agreement with us for the continued distribution of our networks. As a result, their Dish and Sling TV subscribers have lost access to our unmatched portfolio of live sports and news, plus kids, family and general entertainment programming from ABC-owned television stations, ESPN networks, Disney-branded channels, Freeform, FX networks, National Geographic channels and BabyTV”.

According to Disney, “The rates and terms we seek are reflective of the market and have been the basis of numerous successful deals with Pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country. We are committed to reaching a fair resolution and encourage Dish to work with us to minimize disruption to their customers.”

Dish claimed that as part of the rate increase, Disney is requiring ESPN and ESPN2 to be included in Dish TV packages that currently exclude sports channels. Additionally, while Dish TV has allowed subscribers to drop local channels to lower their monthly bills, “Disney now wants to drop this by forcing most Dish customers in their ABC markets to pay for local channels,” said the pay television provider.

“Disney has exploited its position in the market to raise rates without regard to the audience’s viewing experience,” Brian Neylon, executive vice president and group president of Dish TV, said in a statement. “Clearly, Disney insists on prioritizing greed over American viewers, especially sports fans and families with children who watch its content.”

The full list of Disney-owned networks affected by the blackout are: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild , Nat Geo Mundo, Red ACC, Red SEC, Red Longhorn and Baby TV.

ABC-owned venues that have turned down Dish and Sling TV are: Chicago (WLS), Fresno, California. (KFSN), Houston (KTRK), Los Angeles (KABC), New York (WABC), Philadelphia (WPVI), Raleigh, NC (WTVD), and San Francisco (KGO).

As of June 30, Dish had 7.79 million satellite TV subscribers (down 9% year-over-year) and 2.20 million Sling TV subscribers (down 10% year-over-year).

Disney Networks’ removal of Dish and Sling comes just four days after Dish reached a carriage renewal deal for Sony Pictures’ Game Show Network following a three-week blackout. Meanwhile, Disney had reached an impasse in carriage talks with Google’s YouTube TV in December 2021, resulting in a two-day blackout in the Internet TV service.


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