By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
Charter, the corporate parent of Spectrum TV, charged today in an unusual 8:30 a.m. ET webcast that Disney was refusing to be flexible in its carriage negotiations which broke down last night, leading to the blackout of 26 Disney-owned channels. The cable operator said Disney had rebuffed proposals to provide less expensive programming packages to cord cutters who are opting to subscribe to streaming services. The proposals would be reduced in price by not including ESPN but perhaps including a streaming version of the sports network that subscribers could order directly.
However, Disney has just issued a statement slamming Charter, claiming it has “proposed creative ways” to offer “new and flexible packages,” such as including a separate streaming offering for ESPN to Spectrum TV subscribers. The company charged, however, that Charter wants to carry standalone streaming services for free rather than pay Disney. “Although Charter claims to value our (DTC) direct-to-consumer services, they are demanding these services for free as they have stated publicly. Charter is depriving consumers of that content because they are failing to ascribe any value in exchange for licensing those services.”
In today’s webcast, Charter this morning said the pay TV economic model is “broken” but Disney wasn’t interested in working together to find a solution that would work for both companies. “Charter offered to accept Disney ‘market’ rate increases in exchange for bundling ad-supported DTC (direct-to-consumer) apps with packaged linear products, and lower penetration payment minimums to provide packaging flexibility to customers,” the company said.
In addition to the attack on Charter’s morning allegations, Disney said in its statement that it offered Charter an extension in the negotiations “to keep our networks up and they declined in the middle of programming that is important to their subscribers, including the US Open. Charter’s actions are a disservice to consumers ahead of the kickoff for the college football season on ABC and ESPN’s networks.”
Charter has yet to issue a statement in response to Disney’s allegations.
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— Phillip Swann