Disney is stating that they will be pulling their networks, including ABC, ESPN, and Disney Channel from Optimum cable systems if a new deal cannot be reached. Disney’s deal with Optimum’s parent company Altice expires at the end of September.
A crawl has appeared on the bottom of Disney owned channels making customers aware of the potential disruption. A Disney spokesperson said, “Our contract with Altice is due to expire soon, so we have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming. We remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so.”
According to Optimum, viewership of ESPN by their customers has declined more than 30 percent in the last three years, however it wants the cable company to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for it. In addition, ESPN has spent billions of dollars to air live sports, and they are trying to recoup that money by charging our customers more.
This is the first round of major cable carriage renegotiations as Optimum is the fourth largest operator in the United States. The terms agreed to will set a framework for future negotiations with other TV providers.
There is no question that cable networks have seen a decline in viewership as consumers “cord cut” and the options for entertainment and information have expanded. Disney is trying to make-up for their losses by launching ESPN and Disney branded direct-to-consumer offerings which may be seen as a threat by traditional cable operators despite that Disney has said they remain committed to offering traditional linear networks through cable providers and continue to see them as partners.