Disney (DIS) and Charter (CHTR) have reached a deal to end their historic carriage dispute — just in time for Monday Night Football, which airs on Disney’s ESPN, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Both Disney and Charter shares climbed more than 2% following the news. Other media companies including Paramount Global (PARA) and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) also climbed higher, up 4% and 5%, respectively.
A separate report from CNBC says the deal includes a discounted wholesale price for subscribers of Disney’s streaming services, in addition to an increase in subscriber fees paid to Disney.
Disney and Charter did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance’s request for comment.
Disney pulled its owned and operated channels including ESPN and ABC off Charter Spectrum cable systems in late August as the two hit a stalemate over whether Disney should give Charter subscribers free access to its ad-supported streaming services as part of the telecom giant’s cable packages.
The blackout has already impacted a slew of high-profile sporting events including the US Open and arrived on the heels of the NFL’s debut — upping the pressure for both sides to make a deal.
Disney’s ESPN network carries the rights to Monday Night Football while NBC, owned by Comcast (CMCSA), hosts Sunday night games. Amazon (AMZN) famously bought the rights to Thursday Night Football in 2021. Fox (FOXA) and CBS (PARA) split the the rest.
Disney faced the potential loss of 14.7 million Charter pay TV subscribers, or 20% of ESPN’s current linear subscriber base of 74 million, according to an estimate from Macquarie senior analyst Tim Nollen. That equates to linear revenue losses of roughly $5 billion, or 6% of overall revenue.
Meanwhile, Charter faced the risk that frustrated football fans could cut off their cable packages, a trend that is already threatening the pay-TV model.
Charter has focused on offering more bundles amid the cord-cutting phenomenon, hence its desire to include more streaming plans in packages. On top of that, Disney plans to take ESPN fully over the top as a direct-to-consumer streaming service — another incentive for Charter to lean into streaming.
More to come.
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