Disney, Time Warner Cable Finalize Programming Deal


The Disney/ABC Television Group and its Walt Disney Co. sibling ESPN finalized their retransmission consent and cable carriage deal with Time Warner Cable without any of the popular channels fading to black on the cable system.

The Disney Time Warner negotiations were being closely watched because broadcasters like ABC are seeking cash payments from cable operators and the resulting disputes have frequently resulted in highly publicized battle as each side tries to sell its story to the public. Just before their Sept. 1 deadline, both sides said that they had reached a framework for an agreement, leading to expectations that these talk would be settled peaceably.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the two sides said their new agreement covers ABC's TV stations, as well as the cable channels ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, and SoapNet, The agreement also covers customers of Bright House Networks.

In recent negotiations between broadcasters and cable operators, the broadcasters seem to getting their way. Sources familiar with the talks weren't immediately able to estimate the total value of the deal. But they said that Disney would be receiving the 60 cents to 75 cents per sub it had been seeking for the retransmission rights for its TV stations, WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville and, WTVG in Toledo.

Disney also received substantial subscriber fee increases for the Disney Channel and ABC Family cable channels, which have both expanded their ratings since the last deal with Time Warner was negotiated.

In addition, Time Warner Cable will begin to carry several new services, including Disney Junior, ESPN.com, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater. Time Warner cable subscribers will also be getting added access to content via video on demand and expanded digital access.

Time Warner Cable and Bright House will carry Disney Junior, a new 24 hour basic cable channel for pre-schoolers launching in 2012. The channel will be replacing SoapNet.

Subscribers will also get ESPN3.com, ESPN's broadband network focused on live events. They will also be able to access ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU through their broadband service. Only authenticated cable subscribers will have access to the channels via broadband.

ESPN and Time Warner Cable also developed a new service called ESPN Goal Line, a college football highlight channel available only to sports tier subscribers on Time Warner Cable and Bright House. The service is expected to launch in September. A similar service called ESPN Buzzer Beater will launch during the college basketball season.

The agreement also calls for the launch of ESPN 3D and expanded distribution for ESPN Deportes HD.

In addition to an expansion of the number of shows available on free video on demand, a new transactional VOD service will be created for select content from the Disney/ABC Group.

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