Receive Free Walt Disney Company Updates
we will send you myFT Daily Digest Email summary of the latest information walt disney company Every morning there is news.
Disney quietly allowed players to watch direct-to-watch coverage of this week’s US Open on its ESPN channel amid a bitter row with pay-TV provider Charter Communications, which has canceled programming for millions of subscribers.
Nearly 15 million U.S. pay-TV subscribers have been unable to watch Disney networks including ESPN since Thursday because of a dispute with Charter over programming fees. The feud pits traditional cable operator Charter against media giant Disney. Charter, a legacy cable operator that has been canceling cable service for years, has struggled to retain subscribers. Disney has also jumped into the direct-to-consumer streaming business in recent years, and its ESPN channel remains a cornerstone of U.S. sports programming.
Sandwiched in the middle are some of the best tennis players in the world who can’t watch their opponents play while they’re in New York.
“I don’t know if it’s legal or illegal, but I have to figure it out because I can’t see [the matches] On TV,” 2021 U.S. Open champion Daniel Medvedev said in a news conference Monday night after advancing to the quarterfinals. “I have the Internet — what do you call it?” — Bootleg site where I watch tennis. I have no choice. “
An ESPN spokesman told the Financial Times on Tuesday that the network had begun offering secure logins to the Walt Disney Co. app to some U.S. Open players, including Medvedev, who had requested access.
The company also provided login information to some members of the US media covering the race. Disney had to log in for ESPN tennis analyst John McEnroe, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week and was forced to miss some early games himself.
“He couldn’t watch, he was going crazy,” the spokesman said.
While shipping disputes between media outlets and cable companies are common, the current feud comes amid one of the busiest weeks in the U.S. for live sports, a cornerstone of cable programming.
In addition to the U.S. Open, the most important domestic tennis event of the year, this week also marks the return of college football and the start of the National Football League season on Thursday. Disney and ESPN own the rights to Monday Night Football, which remains one of the most-watched weekly broadcasts of the year.
Charter declined to comment Tuesday. The company previously blamed the ongoing controversy on the loss of cable subscribers and media companies moving programming to direct-to-consumer platforms.
“We have reached the precipice and must chart a path for change,” the company said in a statement.
On Monday, Disney said it “hopes that Charter will be ready to engage in additional conversations to restore Spectrum customers’ access to its content as quickly as possible.” Disney urged affected subscribers to consider signing up for Hulu, its majority-owned streaming service, with Comcast.
The US Tennis Association, which manages the US Open, declined to comment. Last week, the company said it was “disappointed” with fans and viewers not being able to watch ESPN, and hoped that Disney and Charter would reach a deal “as soon as possible.”