With clarity finally emerging after one of the bigger program licensing dust-ups in recent pay-TV history, Disney appears to have come out on top in its negotiating struggle with Altice USA.
According to Bloomberg, the media conglomerate was able to secure price increases for its networks, which included hotly contested ESPN, but also the ABC broadcast network and The Disney Channel.
Further, the long-term deal has Altice carrying the SEC Network in its Optimum footprint. This means that around 2.4 million Altice customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will have to pay for a regional sports network themed around Alabama, Louisiana State, Texas A&M and other college sports programs in the Southeast.
The two sides were able to carve out a long-term deal Sunday, as an expiration deadline—and possible programming blackout—approached.
The talks conceded around Altice’s Optimum system, which was acquired when the European telecom conglomerate bought Cablevision in 2016.
During the run-up to the deal last month, Altice loudly proclaimed that it was going to hold the line on the pricey ESPN channel, which costs, on average, around $7.54 per subscriber. Disney’s massive program rights deals for the channel, which include a $1.9 billion-a-year payment to the NFL for “Monday Night Football,” were Disney’s mistakes—which Altice swore it wouldn’t pass on to its customers.
Faced with a possible blackout of not only NFL games, but of college football and NBA basketball, as well, Altice appears to have blinked, perhaps revealing that live sports bundled into expensive pay-TV programming packages isn't obsolete just yet.