In what is being hailed as a groundbreaking deal and the most comprehensive carriage agreement ever, the Walt Disney Co has signed a long-term pact with Comcast for its entire portfolio of TV networks, including ABC and ESPN. The arrangement covers a total of 70 networks/services that will be delivered to more than 20 million subscribers. The deal stems from the Disney-Comcast talks on entertainment cable networks ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD and SoapNet/Disney Jr, whose carriage agreement was up at the end of 2011. The negotiations gradually expanded to include all Disney TV outlets. Comcast’s existing deals for ABC and ESPN were to come up within the next two years. The two sides would not elaborate on the exact length of the deal but note that it will stretch “into the next decade,” meaning that it is for at least eight years. Also unclear is the price tag, but sources close to the negotiations said that Disney brass are “very pleased” with the outcome and that the company has been able to land healthy fee increases for its cable networks and retransmission money for its O&O stations that carry ABC. The deal, which will give Comcast access to Walt Disney’s TV content on an array of platforms, is the biggest carriage agreement with a direct NBCUniversal TV competitor that Comcast has signed following its acquisition of the entertainment company a year ago. Comcast and Disney signed a similar long-term wide-reaching distribution deal for all Disney networks in 2006. As part of that deal, Comcast, which made a bid to acquire Disney in 2004, bought Disney’s 39.5% stake in E! Networks to become the channels’ sole owner. Here is the joint Disney-Comcast release, which outlines details about services included in the pact:
The carriage dispute between DirecTV and the Fox cable networks has reached the FCC. DirecTV’s EVP Derek Chang today sent a letter to the commission complaining about the message in some of Fox’s recent ads urging DirecTV customers to switch to another satellite/cable provider as they may lose their local Fox station, too. “FOX is using misleading advertising informing DIRECTV customers that ‘soon, in some markets, you may lose your local FOX station,’ even though our retransmission consent agreement does not expire for over two months,” the letter said. The current extension to DirecTV and Fox cable networks’ carriage agreement expires on Monday, and DirecTV last week said that it plans to pull the networks if no deal is reached. The carriage deal for the Fox stations that carry the Fox broadcasting network expires on Dec. 31. Here is the full text of the letter, which does not mention the recent R-rated verbal attack on the company by Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter:
PREVIOUS, 8 PM: AT&T informed its customers that the NHL Network could be removed from the U-verse TV lineup tonight. “We have tried to reach a fair, long-term deal with NHL Network in order to continue delivering this channel to U-verse TV U450 and Sports Tier customers,” AT&T said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it appears that as of midnight EST, Oct. 1, NHL Network will no longer be available on U-verse TV because we will no longer have an acceptable agreement to carry the channel.” Fans can still catch the games on their local channels or on NBC and Versus, both of which inked deals this spring for the rights to 100 regular-season games.