Spectrum and Disney fail to reach a deal
Spectrum cable and streaming service customers across the country were left frustrated and angry on Thursday night, as they lost access to ESPN and other Disney-owned channels at 8:00 p.m. ET, just as the highly anticipated college football game between Utah and Florida was about to kick off. The blackout was caused by a dispute between Spectrum and Disney Entertainment, the parent company of ESPN, over fee hikes and programming packages.
Spectrum and Disney had a deadline of 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday to reach a new agreement, but the deadline passed without an interruption to the channels. However, right at the start of the game, Spectrum customers saw a lengthy message on their TV screens, indicating that Disney had removed their programming from Spectrum and that Spectrum was continuing to negotiate in good faith to reach a fair deal.
How to watch ESPN without Spectrum
Many college football fans who wanted to watch the Utah-Florida game, as well as other sports events on ESPN and its affiliated networks, such as the U.S. Open tennis tournament and the Elon-Wake Forest game, were left scrambling for alternatives. Some of them took to social media to express their frustration and outrage at Spectrum and Disney for ruining their night.
Fortunately, there are some cable-cutting options that allow viewers to watch ESPN without Spectrum. These include Fubo TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu+Live Sports. All of these services offer free trials that can be used to watch ESPN on Thursday night while the dispute between Spectrum and Disney is ongoing. However, some of these services may not be available in all areas or may have different channel lineups depending on the location.
Disney channels affected by the Spectrum blackout
The blackout not only affected ESPN and its family of networks, but also other Disney-owned channels, such as ABC, FX, Freeform, National Geographic and Disney Channel. This means that Spectrum customers could miss out on popular shows and movies on these channels, such as Grey’s Anatomy, American Horror Story, The Simpsons, Frozen and The Lion King.
Disney Entertainment said in a statement that it has successful deals in place with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and that the rates and terms it is seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace. It also said that it is committed to reaching a mutually agreed upon resolution with Charter (the owner of Spectrum) and that it urges them to work with it to minimize the disruption to their customers.
Spectrum said in its message that it offered Disney a fair deal, yet Disney is demanding an excessive increase. It also said that Disney wants to limit its ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages, forcing customers to take and pay for channels they may not want. It said that it is very disappointed with Disney’s position, which has negatively impacted its customers.
No end in sight for the dispute
As of now, there is no indication of when the dispute between Spectrum and Disney will be resolved or how long the blackout will last. This could mean that Spectrum customers could miss more sports events on ESPN in the coming days and weeks, such as the NFL season opener between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 9th, or the college football games between Alabama and Miami on September 4th and between Ohio State and Oregon on September 11th.
The dispute could also affect other entertainment options for Spectrum customers who enjoy watching shows and movies on ABC, FX or Disney Channel. Some of the upcoming premieres that could be affected by the blackout include Dancing with the Stars on September 20th, The Wonder Years on September 22nd and The Rookie on September 26th on ABC; American Crime Story: Impeachment on September 7th, Archer on September 8th and What We Do in the Shadows on September 9th on FX; Cruella on September 3rd, Raya and the Last Dragon on September 10th and Black Widow on September 17th on Disney+.
Spectrum customers who are unhappy with the blackout may consider switching to another pay TV provider or streaming service that carries ESPN and other Disney channels. However, they should be aware that switching providers may involve fees, contracts or other inconveniences. They should also check the availability and quality of service of other providers in their area before making a decision.