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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Disney-Charter Standoff Now Set To Hit ‘MNF’

  • ESPN's first NFL game of the season is caught in carriage dispute.
  • Charter now pushing customers toward Fubo.
Allen Kee-ESPN Images)

There has been no break in the bitter Disney-Charter Spectrum standoff, and now ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” coverage will undoubtedly be affected.

After impacting ESPN coverage of two weekends of college football and the U.S. Open, the ongoing blackout of 19-owned Disney channels — including ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU — is set to extend to the Buffalo Bills-New York Jets “Monday Football Game.” 

ABC is also airing the game, with the expanded coverage plans first solidified in the spring. However, since WABC-TV in New York is also owned by Disney, that broadcast presentation will not be available to Charter subscribers in that market. Charter also has a significant presence in Buffalo, but the ABC affiliate there, WKBW-TV, will be available to subscribers there due to Scripps’ ownership of that station.

Charter CEO Chris Winfrey said the company intends to forge a new paradigm with major video programmers like Disney.

“We always thought about the video business as being an asset to our broadband connectivity business,” Winfrey said last week at a Goldman Sachs conference. “I think it’s on the verge of flipping, where it’s becoming a liability.”

To that end, Charter’s latest move over the weekend was offering a free trial of Fubo, which carries ESPN and other Disney-owned channels. Charter described Fubo as its “preferred streaming TV partner,” and the company’s strategy is to retain customers with its broadband access.

With the NFL continuing to outdistance anything else on American TV, regardless of genre, the football games represent the foremost impact of the carriage dispute. Viewing the game in the affected areas would require obtaining a digital antenna or selecting an alternate television provider – something Disney has been advocating.

Charter is the country’s second-largest cable carrier, with 14.7 million subscribers.

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