×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Disney Says Carriage Talks With Altice Could Reach Impasse

Disney and the cable company once known as Cablevision are at it again.

The two companies, whose fractious carriage negotiations in 2010 resulted in viewers in New York and Connecticut missing 13 minutes of ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars awards ceremonies, are heading for an impasse in current discussions, according to Disney. Altice NV purchased Cablevision Systems in June of 2016 for about $10 billion. Its Altice USA unit serves more than 4.6 million customers, and is one of the biggest content distributors in the nation. Disney controls such popular networks as ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel and Freeform, among others.

Richard Greenfield, a media industry analyst with BTIG Research, said in a recent note that he believes the current discussions entail carriage rights for Disney’s cable portfoilo and retransmission rights for ABC’s owned-and-operated stations. “We believe negotiations between the two sides have deteriorated and the odds of a carriage interruption are growing quickly,” Greenfield wrote.

“Our contract with Altice is due to expire soon, so we have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming. We remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so,” Disney said in a statement. “Our company has never had a disruption of service for our family of networks and there is no reason that should change now.”

Subscribers to Altice’s Optimum cable service on Friday night reported seeing scrolling messages at the bottom of their screen on feeds of ABC’s New York station telling viewers they could be in danger of losing ABC programming if talks did not progress.

Altice in a statement suggested Disney sought “double the rates for ABC for the same content they offer today” and “exorbitant fee increases for ESPN.”

“We are always working hard to negotiate carriage agreements that reflect the best interest of all our customers.,” Altice said. “We want to carry ESPN and its sister networks, including ABC and Disney, at a reasonable rate and have already offered an increase in retransmission fees and sports programming costs.”

Disney countered those claims, noting “For broadcast basic, Altice charges its customers $34 which is more than 15 times  the amount we are seeking for the market’s most watched station, WABC.”

The discussions could pose a real test for both sides. Since the last time they two companies struck a carriage deal, much has changed. Cablevision is now part of a much larger company, while Disney is under much more intense scrutiny related to the financial performance of its cable networks – ESPN in particular.  The sports-cable juggernaut, which has spent heavily to secure programming rights for “Monday Night Football” and other live-sports events, has recently been trimming its employee roster while fending off concerns about remarks made on social media by various anchors.

In remarks made on September 7, Disney CEO Bob Iger suggested a feeling of optimism.  ESPN, he said, “is strong and its array of sports rights is also deep and quite attractive and so we have all the confidence in the world that as we enter our new cycle of extensions with the traditional distributors that we’re in – we’re well-positioned.  We intend to drive a significant value in those negotiations, I think you have to look at it as a blend of distribution and price, I don’t want to get specific about it, but as we enter these negotiations, one that we’re in the middle of right now, we intend to use the strong hand that we have with the brands that we have as we negotiate these new deals and position us well going forward.”

More TV

  • Daily Show Viacom

    Viacom, DirecTV Make Progress in Contract Talks, No Blackout After Deadline Passes

    UPDATED: Viacom and DirecTV executives went down to the wire Friday on a combative contract renewal negotiation with high stakes for both sides. The companies stayed in talks past the midnight Eastern contract expiration and the channels stayed up on AT&T’s platforms. Sources indicated early Saturday that the threat of a blackout had been averted. [...]

  • ABBY'S -- "Pilot" Episode 101 --

    TV Review: 'Abby's' Starring Natalie Morales

    “Abby’s,” NBC’s new comedy about a cranky bartender (Natalie Morales) and her inner circle of regulars, is aware of the inevitable “Cheers” comparisons. Created by “New Girl” writer Josh Malmuth and executive produced by uber-producer (and unabashed “Cheers” superfan) Mike Schur, “Abby’s” therefore makes a few key choices in order to differentiate itself as its [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” series, and Kristin Cavallari will host “Paradise Hotel” on Fox.  DATES Reality star Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of “Paradise Hotel,” an unscripted dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check [...]

  • 'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First

    'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First Docusoap on the State of Reality TV

    Netflix crossed another unscripted threshold on Friday with the launch of “Selling Sunset,” an 8-episode series that follows a group of real estate agents on the Sunset Strip. The show is believed to be the streaming service’s first docusoap, the now-ubiquitous format first popularized in the early 2000s by shows like MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and [...]

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • 'Supernatural' to End After Season 15

    'Supernatural' to End After Season 15 on The CW

    “Supernatural” is ending after 15 seasons. Series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins made the announcement in a video posted on Instagram on Friday. “We just told the crew that even though we’re very excited to be moving into our 15th season, it will be our last,” Ackles said. “15 years of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content