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DirecTV, Disney Ink Multiyear Pact That Includes Internet-Video Rights

The Walt Disney Co. and DirecTV have announced a multiyear distribution deal, which among other things grants the No. 1 satellite TV broadcaster rights to ESPN, ABC and Disney Channel authenticated online-video services.

Under the renewal, DirecTV subscribers will gain access to Disney’s entertainment content across TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and other Internet-connected devices. DirecTV, whose deal with Disney was due to expire at the end of 2014, is the last major pay-TV provider to sign on to Disney’s “TV Everywhere” services.

In addition, the companies said they will explore new opportunities “with respect to potential over-the-top offerings.” Earlier this year, Disney cut a landmark deal with Dish Network that included OTT rights to five of the media conglomerate’s networks. To date, DirecTV has not signaled any intention to launch a similar service.

DirecTV’s approximately 20 million U.S. subs now will be able to access the live feeds and video-on-demand content from all ESPN and Disney cable networks and ABC owned-and-operated TV stations — both in and out of the home. The agreement covers the Mouse House’s authenticated Watch services, including WatchESPN, Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney XD, Watch Disney Junior, Watch ABC Family and Watch ABC.

Also under the pact, DirecTV will launch additional channels including Fusion (a joint venture between ABC News and Univision), Longhorn Network, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater. DirecTV customers also will have access to ESPN’s live multiscreen sports network, ESPN3, and SEC Network’s digital service, SEC Network +.

The Disney-DirecTV agreement “allows both companies to evolve together into the future and gives DirecTV customers a wide range of in-home and out-of-home viewing options to enjoy the broad collection of ESPN, Disney and ABC content,” DirecTV chief content officer Dan York said in a statement. “It’s an immense and exciting undertaking to work together to shape the future of content consumption and the possibilities are endless.”

For Disney, the DirecTV deal seals agreements with the top 10 U.S. pay-TV distributors, which the programming conglom has signed over the last several years, according to David Preschlack, executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks.

The deal covers the satcaster’s carriage of channels including ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNews and SEC Network. In addition, ESPN Classic will be reintroduced as a VOD service on DirecTV. The companies also renewed carriage agreements for ABC’s eight owned local stations: WABC (New York City), KABC (Los Angeles), WLS (Chicago), WPVI (Philadelphia), KGO (San Francisco), WTVD (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.), KTRK (Houston) and KFSN (Fresno, Calif.).

Expanded content available to DirecTV U.S. subscribers under the pact includes ABC On Demand, with episodes of current Alphabet net shows such as “Scandal,” Castle,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge”; ABC Family On Demand, with episodes of “The Fosters,” ”Switched at Birth,” “Baby Daddy” and “Melissa & Joey”; and Disney-branded VOD offerings, including Disney Channel On Demand, Disney Junior On Demand and Disney XD On Demand.

DirecTV customers also will have access to VOD content from ESPN, including content from ESPN Deportes and ESPN Films.

DirecTV is in the process of being acquired by AT&T, in a deal pending regulatory review.

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