The Future. Disney and Charter settled their cable dispute that resulted in the blackouts of Disney-backed channels for nearly two weeks. While Charter was able to get ESPN and ABC back on the air, the transformative aspect of the deal is how much focus was put on giving Charter subscribers access to Disney’s streaming services. Although Hulu wasn’t directly a part of the contract, the deal points signal how embedded the platform has become in Disney’s overall strategy… which may boost the price the Mouse House has to pay for Comcast’s cut.
Disney and Charter’s new deal highlights some major changes coming to cable.
- Streaming is cable now. At least 9.5 million subscribers will now have access to the ad-supported version of Disney+ and ESPN+, highlighting how much streaming has upended pay-TV economics.
- Sports is a stronghold. Those Charter customers will also get access to the full-freight ESPN streaming service when it becomes available, ensuring people who subscribe to cable for sports don’t cut the cord.
- When it comes to brand identity, less is more. Charter isn’t picking up Freeform, Disney Junior, Nat Geo Mundo, Nat Geo Wild, FXM, and BabyTV, which, according to Disney execs, are basically just content pipelines for streaming.
It’s a win-win situation for both Disney and Charter. Disney gets to funnel more customers to its streaming platforms where all the Disney content already lives. In contrast, Charter gets a value-add proposition to its broadband services, which the company has signaled is its “most attractive offering” in the coming years.
All in all, cable lives on to fight another day.