Optimum Cable Customers May Face ABC, ESPN Blackout

Disney has threatened to pull ESPN, Disney Channel, the ABC broadcast network and the rest of its programming portfolio off Altice if a new deal isn’t reached by the end of the month.

Subscribers to Altice’s Optimum cable service reportedly began to see scrolling messages on their television screens on Friday night, with Disney warning that they might lose ABC programming if its talks with Altice did not progress.

“This behavior by ESPN is anti-consumer, and we urge ESPN and its owner to stop the threats, leave their programming on for customers and focus on negotiating an agreement that is fair for our Optimum customers”, Altice said.

According to a Reuters report, Altice said Disney has asked it for “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new fees to continue carrying ESPN and ABC despite a decline in ratings.

Disney is stating that they will be pulling their networks, including ABC, ESPN, and Disney Channel from Optimum cable systems if a new deal can not be reached.

The majority of Altice’s customers live in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania.

“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”, a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement.

In its own general statement mass distributed to media outlets, Disney wrote it is “fully committed to reaching a deal” and is “hopeful” it can do so, adding it has never had a disruption of service for what it described as its “family of networks”.

Disney has a very different take: “The typical Optimum customer pays $160 or more each month for service to Altice, and the bulk of that money goes into their pocket”. It’s a state of affairs that the cableco said impeded it from offering more flexible video packages for customers and which contributed to rising cable bills.

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