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ESPN’s standalone streaming channel is included in Charter and Disney’s new deal

ESPN’s standalone streaming channel is included in Charter and Disney’s new deal


A nearly two-week-long blackout of Disney channels on Charter’s Spectrum cable TV service is ending as they reached a deal ahead of Monday Night Football.

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Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Disney and Charter have resolved the carriage dispute that blocked millions of viewers from watching ESPN, ABC, FX, and other Disney-owned networks. The two companies reached a deal on Monday, which includes bundling the upcoming ESPN streaming channel with Spectrum’s TV Select Plan.

As part of the deal, Disney Plus’ ad-supported plan will also come included with the Spectrum TV Select package, while ESPN Plus will be given to Spectrum TV Select Plus subscribers. There still isn’t a timeline for when Disney could launch ESPN’s standalone streaming service, but it’s been something Disney has been considering for quite some time now.

The standalone service differs from ESPN Plus in that it would offer the full range of content available on ESPN’s TV channel. ESPN Plus, on the other hand, functions as more of a companion app to the network and doesn’t offer access to some content, such as most live NBA games. Disney will still keep the ESPN channel on cable following the launch of its standalone app, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Charter Spectrum blackout lasted nearly two weeks, affecting 14.7 million customers in major markets like New York and Los Angeles. The dispute stemmed from a disagreement surrounding the availability of Disney’s streaming apps, which include Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and Hulu. While Disney said Charter wanted to give its customers access to its streaming apps for “free” within the cable company’s traditional pay TV packages, Charter argued that the entertainment giant wanted to make customers “pay twice” to get the streaming apps and the “linear video they already pay for.”

“Our collective goal has always been to build an innovative model for the future,” Disney CEO Bob Iger and Charter Communications CEO Chris Winfrey said in a joint statement. “This deal recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services while addressing the evolving needs of our consumers.”

Disney used the blackout as an opportunity to push its Hulu with Live TV bundle. Last week, the company began offering a discounted $49.99 per month rate for three months, a deal that lasts through October 11th. The Hulu with Live TV bundle currently costs $69.99 per month without the discount, but it’s set to go up in price to $76.99 per month on October 12th.

Update September 11th, 12:14PM ET: Added more information on ESPN’s streaming channel.