After Disney’s networks went dark on Dish’s platforms Friday night due to a carriage dispute, Disney has reached a “handshake agreement” to bring back TV channels such as ABC, ESPN, FX, Nat Geo and Disney Channel, among others, to Dish’s satellite TV and its streaming multichannel service Sling TV.
Dish wrote in a tweet on Oct. 3, “We are pleased to announce that all your Disney and ESPN channels have been restored. Thank you for your patience and support.”
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Disney said in a statement it had reached a tentative deal that “properly reflects fair market value.” The company added that it’s “pleased” to restore its portfolio of networks on a temporary basis while both parties finalize a new deal.
Carriage renewal disputes between TV providers and programmers are not uncommon, but this one was different because Dish didn’t give its consumers any notice before the Oct. 1 blackout occurred.
The conflict occurred at a particularly bad moment since ABC had just started its new fall season and ESPN was in the middle of the NFL season, and the MLB playoffs would start the following week.
“After months of negotiating in good faith, Dish has declined to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us for continued distribution of our networks,” a Disney spokesperson previously said in a statement Friday night to various news outlets. “The rates and terms we are seeking reflect the marketplace and have been the foundation for numerous successful deals with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country.”
However, Dish said Disney requested a $1 billion increase in payments as part of extending the contract, which had run out on Sept. 30. Disney, according to Dish, also demanded that all customers in eight markets receive ABC local channels and that ESPN and ESPN 2 be added in Dish TV bundles that do not currently contain sports channels.
“Disney has exploited its market position to increase fees without regard for the public viewing experience,” said Brian Neylon, executive vp and group president for Dish TV, in a statement. “Clearly, Disney insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, especially sports fans and families with children who watch their content.”
Approximately 10 million people presently subscribe to pay TV through Sling TV and Dish’s satellite TV service.
And as the two parties head toward a final agreement, the question of whether Dish and Sling TV subscribers will soon experience a subscription price increase arises. The Disney networks-only Orange tier of Sling TV presently costs $35 per month. In comparison to services like YouTube TV, which costs $64.99/month, and Disney’s own Hulu with Live TV offering, which costs $69.99/month, that is one of the least expensive ways to access linear ESPN.