Disney Yanks ESPN’s Spectrum: What you need to know about the channel dispute

Spectrum subscribers across the US have lost access to ESPN, FX, Freeform, and all other Disney programming. The Disney-owned channels were suspended last week due to a carriage dispute with Charter Communications, the company behind the Spectrum brand. An outage on ESPN, one of the largest sports broadcast networks, caused viewers to miss parts of the US Open and the college football kickoff.

Normally, Disney and Charter would agree how much Charter would pay Disney for the right to broadcast its many channels. But the two companies, which renegotiated the price, failed to reach a new agreement. This led Disney to pull its channels from the cable provider’s Spectrum service on Thursday.

Read on to find out what to do if you’re a Spectrum subscriber affected by the Disney Channels shutdown.

What are my options?

If you’re one of the roughly 15 million Spectrum subscribers missing some of your favorite content now that those channels are gone — and you can’t wait for the dispute to be resolved — you have a few options. Almost all of your favorite shows, news and sports are also available for streaming.

The Disney Bundle, which includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus, is able to provide viewers with all their favorite Disney shows. You’ll be able to watch kids’ content that can usually be found on Disney Channel or Disney Junior, and more adult-focused programming found on Freeform and FX. However, these shows will not be broadcast live, so you may miss out on the first live shows of your favorite shows. Disney Bundle subscriptions start at $13 per month and can be canceled at any time.

If you’re missing newscasts, you can turn to over-the-air TV for local news. You will need to buy an antenna if you don’t have one and connect it to your TV, then you will be able to access channels like ABC. You won’t have as many channels as you normally get with cable TV, but if you’re just looking to watch your favorite local news broadcast, this can be a very solid solution.

If you’re a sports fan and feel like missing out on ESPN, you’re covered, too. There are plenty of sports streaming platforms out there that will keep you updated with all your favorite teams and players.

The downside is that all of these options cost money, in addition to the cable service you’re already paying for. Companies can generally work around these transmission disputes, although negotiation problems in the past have led to weeks of blackouts on channels.

If this breakdown in connectivity makes you doubt your commitment to cable, you have a few live TV services to consider. There are options like Hulu plus Live TV, YouTube TV, and Sling, each offering a different channel lineup and other features to consider.

When will my channels be back?

Although it is difficult to say exactly when the two companies will reach an agreement, it is safe to assume that they are actively working towards a solution.

Charter launched a website called disneyespnfairdeal.com about the transfer dispute. On the site, Charter calls the price increase “excessive” and encourages subscribers to call Disney to come to an agreement.

In response to CNET’s request for comment, Charter said “The current video ecosystem is broken. With The Walt Disney Company, we have proposed a model that creates better industry alignment and better options for our customers.” Despite his falling out with Disney, Charter has indicated that he remains “optimistic going forward”.

Disney also launched its own website in response to the dispute, called keepmynetworks.com. Disney highlights its “very successful track record of negotiating with providers of all types and sizes across the country” and says it is “committed to achieving fair, market-based prices and terms.”

In response to CNET’s request for comment, Disney said, “Contrary to the allegations, we have offered the most favorable charter terms regarding price, distribution, packaging, advertising, and more.” Disney also said, “We value our relationship with Charter and are ready to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”

All was resolved before the NFL season got underway on September 7, with a game between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs.

For more information about streaming, here are the best free TV streaming services and how to choose between Disney Plus and Netflix.

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