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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Disney+ Slashes Subscription Price As Charter Battle Ramps Up

  • Temporary price cut to flagship streaming service marks latest move from company
  • Disney accuses Charter of "abandoning" consumers during carriage fight
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ESPN parent Disney has slashed the price of its flagship Disney+ streaming service — another strategic move from the company amid its bitter distribution fight with Charter Spectrum.

As the blackout of 19 Disney channels — including ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU — on the nation’s second-largest cable carrier has led to piracy and proposed class-action lawsuits, Disney has temporarily cut the price of the ad-supported tier of Disney+ from $7.99 per month to $1.99. 

In what is being called a “Blockbuster September” promotion running until Sept. 20, the deal will offer three months of the streaming service at the reduced rate. 

The current offer doesn’t extend to Disney’s sports-centered streaming service, ESPN+. But the promotion does arrive in advance of October price hikes for many of Disney’s streaming services, including ESPN+ (increasing from $9.99 to $10.99 as a standalone service) and a bundle pairing ESPN+ with Disney+ and Hulu. Those increases are part of an inflationary wave impacting much of the streaming landscape.

Not only is the Charter situation — which impacts 14.7 million subscribers — being closely watched, but in August, Disney reported flattened growth for both Disney+ and ESPN+ at a time when subscriber numbers are a particular point of emphasis on Wall Street.

The next major flashpoints in the Disney-Charter battle will be another big weekend of tennis and college football on ESPN networks, as well as the Sept. 11 start of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which features a game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets — a contest whose coverage will directly affect one of Charter’s largest markets.

“As the U.S. Open reaches the men’s and women’s finals and fans gear up for a weekend of college football and the opening of the NFL season, it’s unfortunate that Charter decided to abandon their consumers,” Disney said Thursday. 

Spectrum quickly responded, saying “We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase. We understand this is an inconvenience and hope to return this programming soon.”

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