Disney strikes a deal. US cable TV saved.
Compromise has been reached. And Disney only had to give away everything.
A compromise seemed inevitable, but there was a lot of blood on the floor following the latest skirmish between ESPN-owner Disney and Charter Communications, which owns the Spectrum cable network.
The new deal gives Charter largely what it wanted/needed. It has bought cable TV what is likely to be a few more years as it brings costs down and provides additional value to subscribers (thus reducing subscriber cancellations).
With the deal announced just in time for Monday Night Football, Spectrum customers will once again have access to sports network ESPN, the local ABC stations, FX, and Disney Channel.
Charter used this fight as a way to exert leverage over Disney, which it contends were feeding its subscribers with subpar content, delivering the best stuff to Disney’s streaming customers.
For the new deal…
Gone: Channels including Freeform, Disney Junior, Disney XD, FXX, Nat Geo Wild, and more.
Additions: Spectrum customers will now get access to Disney+ with ads in what is termed as a “wholesale arrangement”. For Spectrum customers who subscribe to the more expensive Select Plus tier (which includes a lot more sports), they will be given access to the ESPN streaming service when it launches at a date TBA. Until the ESPN streamer launches, those Spectrum Select Plus customers will receive the ESPN+ streaming service, which generally streams lower profile sports.
For Disney, cable carriage of ESPN is worth an estimated $400 million a month/$4.8 billion a year. Disney suddenly losing that is hugely damaging, so to keep that cash cow alive, they made some pretty major concessions. The only win in all of this is that Spectrum customers will need to subscribe to Hulu if it wants access to much of that lost content from the now-gone cable channels.
In the long-term, the deal struck is actually pretty good for both parties. Charter keeps its Spectrum cable TV business alive, while Disney will now be able to onboard Charter customers onto its digital platforms. When the time comes for Charter to finally turn the switch off on Spectrum, most of its customers will happily be streaming on Disney’s platforms.
But in the short-term, Disney are losing out on double-dipping with selling so many linear cable channels stocked with content that fuels its streaming business.
The lingering question: Where does this leave competitors? Spectrum has demonstrated that it holds the power in its relationship with content providers. Other cable companies will follow suit and strike similar deals with Disney. But this has flow-on effects to Warner Bros Discovery, Paramount Global, and other channel providers where cable companies will be extracting way more value in their deals going forward.
This is what the dying years of US cable television looks like.
Wes Anderson’s Roald Dahl shorts on Netflix
Yeah, I was disappointed by Asteroid City, but I haven’t sold my stock in Wes Anderson just yet. I’m pretty keen to watch the series of short films he has produced for Netflix based on stories by Roald Dahl. Today we have a schedule of when you can see them - they’re rolling out daily at the end of the month.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
Runtime: 39 minutes / Release date: Wednesday, September 27
A beloved Roald Dahl short story about a rich man who learns about a guru who can see without using his eyes and then sets out to master the skill in order to cheat at gambling.
Runtime: 17 minutes / Release date: Thursday, September 28
A young adult Roald Dahl short story about a small/brilliant boy ruthlessly pursued by two large/idiotic bullies.
Runtime: 17 minutes / Release date: Friday, September 29
A lesser-known Roald Dahl short story about a professional rodent exterminator.
Runtime: 17 minutes / Release date: Saturday, September 30
A well-known Roald Dahl short story about a man who discovers a poisonous snake asleep in his bed.
Brady house sells
Back in 2018 cable channel purchased the original Brady Bunch house to refurbish it on A Very Brady Renovation with the original cast involved. Afterwards, the house’s interior looked just like the house as seen in the original TV show (which I see as a form of The Bradys erasure, but I digress). The house was put up for sale recently at a price tag of $5.5 million. It sold at just $3.2 million. That’s less than the $3.5 million HGTV paid for it, with the network also spending $1.9 million on the refurbishment. But don’t cry poor - they did also get a TV show out of it.
Is this a failure of the property valuation, or of diminished interest in cheesy 1970s TV pop culture…? The world is moving on.
Read: TV Line
Drew Barrymore is facing blowback from the decision to keep producing episodes of her daytime talk show without writers amid the strike. Variety has a list of tweets including those from luminaries like Felicia Day. Read: Variety
It is also claimed that Drew Barrymore was unaware that two fans were ejected from the taping of an episode for wearing WGA supporter pins. Read: The Wrap
And now the WGA is picketing outside the NYC studios where The Drew Barrymore Show is filmed. Read: TV Insider
I’d expect similar pickets outside the studio when Jeopardy! returns using recycled questions. Ken Jennings has been announced as the host for the 40th season of the show. Read: Deadline
A Netflix exec fell asleep during a pitch for an LA Confidential sequel. Read: Indiewire
West Beverly High’s best-remembered disc jockey Brian Austin Green was unmasked after appearing as a crash test dummy on the Australian Masked Singer. I had thought singing Shawn Mendes’ Stitches over 90s classic Superman’s Song was a crash test dummy union violation. Read: TV Tonight
The NSW State Government is set to abolish the Made in NSW fund, the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) rebate and the Digital Games Development Rebate Program. It will be announced in next week’s budget. This comes ahead of the Australian Federal Government’s plan to drive Australian production through mandatory local content streaming quotas. I’m a fan of local funds as they facilitate the telling of Australian stories by Australians and aren’t leaving it to international studios. Read: iF
Australian producers think the abolishment of these funds will be devastating to the local industry. Yeah. Read: Deadline
That’s the newsletter for today. More tomorrow.