Altice USA and Walt Disney Co. say they reached a comprehensive multi-year distribution agreement to deliver Disney programming to Optimum customers, including the planned ESPN streaming service.
The two companies finalized the deal Thursday, after reaching an “agreement in principal” just ahead of a Sunday evening deadline and avoiding a blackout of ESPN and other Disney-owned channels for Altice’s New York-area Optimum subscribers.
Before agreeing to play nice, Altice and Disney took their carriage dispute public. The cable operator told customers, “We have already offered to carry ESPN, ABC, and Disney Channel at fair market rates, however their owner has rejected our offer unless we agree to pay hundreds of millions more in programming fees, even though they all have declining ratings.”
However, the two seem to have settled their differences, as Optimum customers will continue to receive access to a slew of ESPN channels, the Disney Channel, and WABC-TV New York. Disney says it will also provide extra multiplatform, digital, and on-demand content.
“Altice USA is focused on providing the highest quality video and service experience to our customers at a great value, and our successful arrangement with The Walt Disney Company ensures that our Optimum customers will continue to receive the programming they want at a reasonable cost,” Michael Schreiber, EVP and chief content officer at Altice USA comments in a statement. “We are pleased with the value and terms agreed to and we thank our customers for their support while we worked on their behalf to reach a fair agreement.”
ESPN’s SEC Network will be added to Optimum’s lineup in late 2018, while ACC Network will launch in August 2019, according to the companies.
Altice and Disney indicate they also plan to collaborate on ESPN’s streaming service, set to launch at the beginning of 2018, and have agreed to leverage Altice’s data analytics platform.
“This agreement with Altice demonstrates the tremendous value and importance of ESPN, Disney and ABC content to any distributor,” Justin Connolly, EVP at Disney and ESPN Media Networks, adds. “Together we are committed to delivering the best in sports, news, and entertainment programming to Optimum customers, regardless of platform, including new networks from ESPN; ESPN’s upcoming multisport, direct-to-consumer offering; and New York’s most-watched station, WABC.”