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ESPN networks go dark on Charter Spectrum cable systems amid US Open game

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ESPN is one of a number of Disney Entertainment channels that have gone dark on Charter Spectrum cable systems.

The channels were halted Thursday night due to a distribution dispute between the nation’s second-largest cable TV provider – which is the main operator in New York and Los Angeles, among many other markets – and Disney.

ESPN was showing a college football game between No. 14 Florida and Utah, while ESPN2 was showing the US Open tennis tournament, including the second-round match between premier Carlos Alcaraz and Lloyd Harris, when the channels went dark for Charter Spectrum’s 14.7 million viewers. the subscribers.

There were also college football games on SEC Network, ACC Network and ESPNU.

The move angered sports fans, and the US Tennis Federation was unhappy with the timing.

“We are very disappointed for our fans and viewers across the country that Spectrum and Charter were unable to resolve their dispute with Disney, which resulted in ESPN’s loss of coverage of Thursday night’s games. We very much hope that this dispute can be resolved as quickly as possible,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said in a statement.

Charter Spectrum and Walt Disney Co. said in statements that negotiations have been ongoing for some time.

Along with all of the ESPN network channels, ABC-owned stations, Disney-branded channels, Freeform channels, FX and National Geographic went dark on Charter Spectrum.

“Disney Entertainment has successful agreements with pay-TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and the rates and terms we are seeking for this renewal are market-driven. We are committed to reaching a mutually agreed upon resolution with Charter and urge them to work with us to minimize disruption to their customers,” Disney Entertainment said in a statement.

“We’ve offered Disney a fair deal, but they’re demanding an excessive raise,” Charter Spectrum said in a note to customers. “They also want to limit our ability to offer our customers greater choice in programming packages, forcing them to pick up and pay for channels they may not want. The rising cost of programming is the primary driver of cable TV price increases, and we are fighting hard to keep up with the programming prices that companies like Disney are charging us. »

ESPN traditionally has the highest distribution fees for cable companies. According to S&P Global, Disney earns an average of $2.20 billion a year from hauling on Charter Spectrum under its 2019 haul deal.

Other cities where Charter Spectrum is the primary cable provider include Dallas/Fort Worth; Orlando Florida; Tampa, Florida; Kansas City, MO; Saint Louis; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Milwaukee; and Las Vegas.

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