Satcaster Dish and its live streaming service, Sling TV, early this morning lost the entire suite of Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, and ABC local affiliates in eight markets, due to a carriage dispute with Disney. (The loss of ABC does not affect Sling TV which has not carried the network’s affiliates.)
Dish said Disney declined a contract extension offer that would have kept the channels on the two services while negotiations continued. Disney countered that the satellite TV company rejected carriage terms that were similar to what other TV providers have accepted.
“Disney has exploited its market position to increase fees without regard for the public viewing experience,” Brian Neylon, Dish’s executive vice president and group president, said in a statement. “Clearly, Disney insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, especially sports fans and families with children who watch their content.”
“After months of negotiating in good faith, Dish has declined to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us for continued distribution of our networks,” Disney said in its statement. “The rates and terms we are seeking reflect the marketplace and have been the foundation for numerous successful deals with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country. We’re committed to reaching a fair resolution, and we urge DISH to work with us in order to minimize the disruption to their customers.”
Besides ESPN and ABC, the list of affected channels also include:
Disney Channel, Disney Jr, Disney XD, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPN OnDemand, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra, Longhorn Network, SEC Network, SEC+, Freeform, FX, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, ABC News Live, Jimmy Kimmel Live, BabyTV, BabyTV Arabic, BabyTV French, BabyTV Latino, BabyTV Mandarin, BabyTV, Polish, and BabyTV Portuguese.
Dish, which has slightly less than eight million satellite subscribers, including many in rural areas, complained that the removal of the Disney channels “will have an have an oversized impact on rural consumers who rely on satellite television as a primary means of entertainment.”
Sling TV, which has around 2.2 million streaming subscribers, has relied heavily on its carriage of ESPN to attract new customers, particularly young cord-cutters who love sports.
Both services have struggled to attract and keep subscribers over the last year with Dish losing nine percent of its net base during that time while Sling lost 10 percent. If the Disney fee fight lasts for an extended period, it could do serious damage to both TV services.
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— Phillip Swann