By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, we are worried that we will lose ESPN right when the college football season gets going. What do you think will happen with this? Will there be a blackout? — Carrie, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Carrie, Disney, which owns 26 channels, including ESPN and ABC affiliates in seven Spectrum TV markets, has put a scare into Spectrum viewers with an overnight alert that they could lose them all due to a carriage dispute between the companies. A blackout, which come as early as 5 p.m. ET today, would come just two days before the first full weekend of college football. You can see a list of the affected channels at the bottom of this article.

Update: Spectrum TV Loses Disney Channels in Carriage Row

It’s tough to say how this dispute will play out. But it might be instructive to review how the last fee fight between Disney and the Charter-owned Spectrum TV service went down four years ago. In late July of 2019, Disney alerted Spectrum TV subscribers that they could lose the Disney-owned channels if a new carriage agreement was not signed by August 2. However, the deadline passed and there was no blackout. The companies continued to discuss a new deal under a temporary agreement.

Spectrum TV vs. Disney: When Will the Blackout End?

And 12 days later, Disney and Charter announced a new multi-year carriage agreement, avoiding any blackout. “This agreement will allow Spectrum to continue delivering to its customers popular Disney content, makes possible future distribution by Spectrum of Disney streaming services, and will begin an important collaborative effort to address the significant issue of piracy mitigation,” said Tom Montemagno, Charter’s executive vice president for acquisition.
Now every carriage situation is different and what happened in 2019 does not necessarily reflect what will happen this time. But it does show that threats don’t always become reality in carriage negotiations.

The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes. And here are the stations that could be removed if there is a blackout: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN News, SEC Network, ACC Network, Longhorn Network, FX, FX Movie Channel, FXX, Freeform, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, and Baby TV. In addition, Spectrum TV subscribers could lose the following ABC stations: ABC7 Chicago, ABC7 Los Angeles, ABC7 New York, ABC7 San Francisco, ABC11 Raleigh-Durham, ABC13 Houston, and ABC30 Fresno.

Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann