Disney and Charter said Monday that they had reached a deal to resolve their programming dispute, ending a skirmish that raised questions about the future of cable television.
The two sides said their new deal meant that Charter’s nearly 15 million cable TV subscribers would be able to watch programming from Disney’s channels, which include FX and ESPN. The agreement was reached hours before the kickoff of Monday Night Football, one of the most popular telecasts in the United States.
“This deal recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services while addressing the evolving needs of our consumers,” Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, and Chris Winfrey, Charter’s chief executive, said in a joint statement.
For more than a week, Disney and Charter, one of the biggest cable companies in the United States, had been locked in a high-stakes struggle over the terms of their distribution agreement. The two sides couldn’t reach a deal, and Disney’s shows were pulled off Charter’s cable service before Labor Day, when many Americans were expecting to tune into college football and the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
So-called carriage disputes like the impasse between Disney and Charter are fairly common, with TV distributors often balking at paying media companies ever-higher rates to show their movies and TV shows. The channels generally go dark for a few days and are restored after some last-minute deal making.
But Charter took its dispute with Disney further, calling an early-morning news conference before Labor Day weekend to declare that its fraught negotiation with Disney was a sign of worsening conditions for the cable bundle that millions of Americans pay for every month. It was a notable acknowledgment from a cable company that propelled much of the growth of pay-TV.
The dispute boiled down to how Disney’s movies and shows — those on traditional channels and the company’s streaming services — could be offered to Charter’s customers. Charter wanted to give Disney’s streaming services, including Disney+, at no cost to its subscribers, arguing that the company was moving much of its best programming away from cable. Disney balked at that, arguing that Charter was devaluing services that it was spending billions of dollars on.