Cable and satellite operator Charter Communications and The Walt Disney Company have ended their carriage fee dispute and agreed to restore most of Disney's networks and stations – including ESPN and ABC – to Charter-owned Spectrum's video customers.
Under the deal, Disney+ Basic ad-supported service will be provided to customers who buy the Spectrum TV Select package in the coming months, and ESPN+ will be provided to Spectrum TV Select Plus subscribers.
The companies also said that the ESPN flagship direct-to-consumer service will be available to Spectrum TV Select subscribers when it launches, and that Charter will maintain flexibility to offer a range of video packages at varying price points based on customer viewing preferences.
In addition, Charter will offer Disney's direct-to-consumer services – including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ as well as The Disney Bundle – to customers for purchase at retail rates.
The companies said that Spectrum TV is offering 19 networks from Disney, but that its video packages will no longer include Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo.
On Aug. 31, several Disney-owned channels, including ESPN and ABC, went dark on the Spectrum network after talks broke down between the content supplier and the content distributor. Charter, the parent company of Spectrum that serves more than 32 million customers in 41 states, said that Disney removed the programming.
During the dispute, Charter reportedly was offering a $15 credit to customers who requested it while Disney was urging pay TV users to switch to its Hulu Live service, as the companies continued their battle over distribution fees.
According to several media reports, Spectrum “quietly" offered the $15 credit to customers who request it in an attempt to placate angry viewers and keep them from switching services.
The dispute came amid an ongoing decline in traditional broadcast and cable TV viewership, and as prices for many streaming platforms have increased despite more and more companies entering the marketplace.
Where to find free and paid streaming services
If you're looking for places to get TV and movies online, you have more than a few options for free and paid streaming services.
Examples of those include FreeVee, a free, ad-supported streaming service that you can find on a range of devices owned and operated by Amazon, and Pluto TV, a free streaming option that's best used for live TV viewing.
Besides the increased number of free streaming services, many of the premium services now also offer cheaper, ad-supported membership plans.
Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration.
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