Charter-Disney dispute blacked out Mizzou game, but sports fans have viewing options

Mizzou fans were happy to see the Tigers football team stroll to an easy 35-10 win over South Dakota on Thursday.

Well, those who able to watch the game were pleased.

Unfortunately for many Tigers fans, they learned of a dispute between Disney and Charter Communications the hard way. Shortly after kickoff Thursday, the Walt Disney Co. pulled ESPN and its SEC Network from Charter’s Spectrum cable service, leaving Mizzou fans fuming. Also gone are ABC, the Disney Channel and FX.

“It is clear at this point that this is not a typical blackout,” cable analyst Craig Moffett warned in a report, per the Los Angeles Times. “Charter seems genuinely willing to walk away from Disney, and even the entire linear video model, if necessary.”

In a news release, Charter said it “is fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice. The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices. We are fighting hard to hold the line against increased programming rates that Disney continues to demand.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and are continuing to negotiate in good faith in order to reach a fair agreement on behalf of our customers.”

ESPN put out its own release, pointing the blame on dispute on Charter.

“Although Charter claims that they value their customers, they declined Disney’s offer to extend negotiations which would have kept Disney-owned networks up for consumers in the middle of perennial programming events like the US Open and college football,” ESPN wrote in the release, per The Spun.

ESPN also said 71% of Charter subscribers tune to a Disney station or network each month.

“Even though Charter also claims to value Disney’s direct-to-consumer services, the cable company is demanding these different services for free — as they have stated publicly — which does not make economic sense,” ESPN wrote.

What’s next?

Variety, quoting a note from Wells Fargo media industry analyst Steven Cahall, said Charter “could see as many as 1.8 million subscribers exit if Disney fans left to find its programming elsewhere.”

By Cahall’s estimate, that could affect $3.7 billion of Charter’s revenue.

A New York Times story said Charter “tried and failed to persuade Disney to agree to a ‘transformative deal’ that would combine traditional TV packages and subscriptions to streaming apps.”

As of Monday, the dispute lingers but the sports games go on.

Viewing options

Some Mizzou fans wasted little time in dropping Spectrum after ESPN disappeared from their list of channels. Many switched to YouTube TV, which costs $72.99 a month.

There are other options for sports fans who have Spectrum.

ESPN+ will show many college football games, too.

Sling TV has ESPN, ESPN2 and Disney, and starts at $40 a month (the first month is half off).

ESPN networks also are available on Fubo, DirectTV Stream (which also offers Bally Sports KC) and Hulu + Live TV.

The NFL season kicks off this week and the first “Monday Night Football” game will pit the Jets against the Bills, but some fans may not be able to watch if the dispute continues.