By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
Disney isn’t taking the Sunday before Labor Day off. The media giant, which is embroiled in a now three-day-long carriage dispute with Charter’s Spectrum TV, released a new statement today accusing the cable operator of mischaracterizing how often its subscribers watch the 26 Disney-owned channels, including ESPN.
Since the Disney blackout began on Thursday night (August 31), Charter has said that Disney wants all subscribers to pay for ESPN although a relatively small percentage actually watch it. The cable operator wants Disney to allow it to exclude ESPN from certain lower-priced programming packages which could keep people from cutting the cord. But Disney says in today’s statement that ESPN aired more than half (53) of the top 100 telecasts in Charter homes during the past year, including the top five, according to Nielsen. In addition, in the average month, Disney says Nielsen says 71 percent of Charter subscribers tune into Disney’s channels, and they have watched more than 3.3 billion hours of content on Disney networks and stations over the past year.
The Disney statement does not say how many Charter subscribers actually watch ESPN, a point of contention between the companies. But Disney says Charter has unnecessarily made the Labor Day weekend a “stressful one for its customers—many of whom have been experiencing up to three-hour hold times to cancel their cable subscription after Disney’s networks went dark.”
The company also reiterates that it offered to extend the negotiations with Charter before the blackout began but claims the cable operator rejected the proposal. There’s no comment yet from Charter on the latest Disney statement.
Update: A Charter spokesman says the company has no comment at this time in response to the Disney statement.
“Disney deeply values its relationship with its viewers and is hopeful Charter is ready to have more conversations that will restore access to its content to Spectrum customers as quickly as possible,” the Disney statement says. “Consumers should also know that they have many options today and can choose from competing pay TV providers that offer Disney’s entire portfolio of networks and programming, as well as TV streaming services that can be accessed by downloading an app or over a broadband connection.”
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— Phillip Swann