By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

Update: Charter & Disney Reach Deal to End Blackout

TV Answer Man, we want to watch the Monday night game with the Jets on Spectrum. Do you think they will come to their senses before the game and end the blackout? — Peter, New York.
Peter, the Spectrum TV-Disney carriage dispute today enters its 11th full day but this is not like any other day in the impasse. Since the blackout began at 8 p.m. ET on August 31, there has not been a single day where more was at stake than today. ESPN and ABC tonight will air the first Monday Night Football game of the season with the New York Jets playing the Buffalo Bills. The Jets are led by the team’s new quarterback, superstar Aaron Rodgers, which makes this game must-viewing for even the most casual fan in the New York area. But with the 26 Disney-owned channels (including ESPN and the ABC affiliate) blacked out on New York’s leading TV provider, the Charter-owned Spectrum TV, millions of New York area fans could miss the game. And if you don’t appreciate the ramifications of that, you don’t understand the power of the NFL in New York and America.

The question is: Will the game’s influence over the New York populace, which includes some of the nation’s and world’s most powerful figures, be enough to compel Charter and Disney to settle the dispute, at least temporarily? Rich Greenfield, a well-known industry analyst, and a general partner at LightShed Ventures, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) yesterday that he’s “hearing multiple reports that Disney and Charter Spectrum will reach a deal before tomorrow’s Monday Night Football kickoff on ESPN & ABC.” However, no one else of similar standing has said the same nor has a credible publication confirmed that.

I predicted here when the blackout began that it would likely last less than two weeks, and we are still in that zone. Despite Charter’s insistence that it needs Disney to agree to unprecedented terms in carriage talks (allowing Charter to not offer ESPN in low-cost plans, and offer Disney’s streaming services for free), the company doesn’t want to unnecessarily chase away the lion’s share of its 15 million video subscribers. And that could happen today if Spectrum TV doesn’t announce sooner than later that the Jets-Bills game will be available.

Likewise, Disney’s best chance of persuading Charter to offer something close to its position could evaporate after today. The company, which desperately need the Charter carriage fees now as it moves towards an all-streaming world in future years, could lose the cable operator forever after today. Disney must also be more willing to compromise now. So I am hopeful that we will see a deal today, although it could be a short-term one that would allow the companies to keep talking without a mass exodus of Charter subscribers.

Peter, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann