On the day the college football season kicked into gear, ESPN, ABC and other Disney-owned channels were pulled from Spectrum cable Thursday evening amid a breakdown in negotiations over carriage fees.
The channels went dark at 5 p.m. and were replaced by a message from Spectrum to customers saying it hopes to restore the programming soon.
“We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase,” according to a statement posted on Spectrum’s website. “They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want.
“Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice.”
In a statement of its own, Disney said its proposed rates are “driven by the marketplace.”
“We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Charter Communications for some time and have not yet agreed to a new market-based agreement,” according to Disney. “… 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.”
In Los Angeles, the move means ABC7 is no longer available on Spectrum, along with all ESPN channels, Freeform, FX, FXX and National Geographic.
The channels were pulled from Spectrum just as ESPN was beginning to air Thursday night college football games, along with coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Many viewers took to social media to lash out. One viewer wrote, “So fantasy football bout to start and (Spectrum) talking about they in a fight with Disney about not keeping ESPN as part of the programming services? Y’all have until Saturday to figure this out.”
Another wrote, “Really Disney? During the US Open? I’ve never known a broadcaster to just dump their programming in the middle of a show.”