Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today announced a comprehensive distribution agreement to deliver Disney’s robust lineup of top quality sports, news and entertainment content to Cablevision TV customers across television, internet, tablets and handheld devices. The new agreement enhances the multichannel business model and supports the companies’ mutual goal to deliver the best video content to customers across multiple platforms.
As part of the new multi-year agreement, Cablevision will launch several new services, including the full suite of authenticated WATCH products, ESPN3 and ESPN 3D, as well as the upcoming ABC News/Univision Joint Venture, a 24/7 news, information and lifestyle multi-platform network for English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics, the youngest and fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. In total, approximately 70 services are covered by the broad scope of this agreement including: ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN 3D, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FullCourt, ESPN3 and Longhorn Network; retransmission consent for WABC-TV and WPVI-TV, as well as more than 10 high-definition networks.
Cablevision customers will receive broad access to existing authenticated products like WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney XD and WATCH Disney Junior, the to-be-launched WATCH ABC and WATCH ABC Family services and WatchESPN (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater). These products will give Cablevision customers more opportunities to access live and video on demand content, both in-home and out-of-home, on their computers, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles.
Cablevision will also provide its TV customers with broad access to expanded On Demand content through Disney’s comprehensive TV+ initiative.
“This significant agreement ensures that our customers will continue to have access to dozens of ABC, Disney and ESPN networks for years to come and, for the first time, they will be able to enjoy Disney and ESPN programming outside the home,” said James L. Dolan, Cablevision’s president and CEO. “It includes the launch of new services, like ESPN3, and expanded availability of high-quality On Demand content, which is a key element of our video strategy and value proposition to customers.”
“With our robust and ever-growing multi-platform content offerings, we’re pleased to be able to expand our relationship with Cablevision,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group. “We look forward to working together to deliver our viewers and their customers better access to our broad portfolio of high-quality programming.”
Added John Skipper, President, ESPN, Inc., “Working with Cablevision, we’re able to strengthen the value of the multichannel subscription by delivering 24/7 live access to our content, which is at the core of our collective commitment to sports fans.”
The extensive and expanded rights package for Cablevision TV customers includes rights across multiple platforms for:
- ABC On Demand, ABC’s fast-forward-disabled On Demand service, which currently features a selection of top-rated primetime entertainment programming, including episodes of such popular current ABC shows as “Castle,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Once Upon A Time,” “Private Practice” and “Revenge.” Full current seasons will be made available on a number of shows. Additionally, Cablevision customers will have access to a variety of ABC News programming as well as some local ABC owned-station content.
- ABC Family On Demand, which features a variety of top-rated full episodes, refreshed monthly, from such popular millennial favorites as “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Switched at Birth,” Baby Daddy” and “Melissa & Joey.” Full current seasons will be made available on a number of shows. ABC Family original movies like “12 Dates of Christmas” will also be available.
- Disney-branded On Demand offerings, including Disney Channel On Demand, Disney Junior On Demand, and Disney XD On Demand. Refreshed each month, the Disney Channel On Demand offering will include episodes from such series as “Handy Manny,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” for preschoolers, as well as variety of episodes from “A.N.T. Farm,” “Good Luck Charlie,” “Jessie,” and other popular series for older kids. Select episodes featured on Disney Channel On Demand will be available in innovative new offerings, such as playlists and monthly programming blocks, in addition to a number of episodes available in multiple languages. A variety of Disney Channel Original Movies will also be available. Disney XD On Demand features a selection of episodes from such series as the Emmy Award-winning animated hit “Phineas and Ferb,” “Pair of Kings” and “Kickin’ It.”
- Expanded on demand content from ESPN, including content from ESPN Deportes and ESPN’s award-winning original content from ESPN Films.
- The subscription On Demand service “Disney Family Movies,” which features a selection of classic and contemporary feature films and animated shorts from The Walt Disney Studios.
As we first reported back in December, WABC-TV, a member of the Disney/ABC Television Group (DATG) had begun preparing for a standoff with Cablevision in New York as its retransmission contract comes up for negotiations by registering for a series of domain names which had inadvertently put its agenda on public display for a couple of hours until we brought to the public’s attention.
Tonight, just before the season finale of The Bachelor began, WABC-TV ran a commercial in New York City taking an offensive stance, showing a montage of television programming carried by the station, including local news, which would potentially be lost if Cablevision opts to remove WABC-TV from its lineup.
Ironically enough, one of the programs featured in the commercial is Oprah Winfrey’s, who announced late last year that the show would be ending in 2011, causing many television insiders to question the viability of ABC affiliates many of them carry her show and receive significant ratings as a result.
The commercial advised viewers to surf to saveabc7.com which, at the time, pointed to a blogger.com site set to invitation only but has since been rectified.
Today, The Walt Disney Company registered a series of domain names revolving around one of its flagship television stations, WABC-TV in New York City. The domain names which include ILoveABC7.com, IWantMyABC7.com, SaveABC7.com and SaveABC7Now.com were also joined by StopCablevision.com
Unusual for Disney, the sites were already active, although it appears as though the content on the site — while not harmful in any way — was probably not meant for public consumption.
Under the title ABC/WABC Retransmission Consent, the page provides guidelines for how the company plans to address an upcoming negotiation with cable provider Cablevision beginning in January with a current contractual deadline of an unspecified date in March.
Presumably anticipating that Cablevision will not respond favorably for a request for more money to carry the network station, the site plans to offer customers a way to ‘understand the facts about the negotiations with Cablevision and our position,’ while possibly offering an online petition, a chat room or forum (with moderation) to support the station and offering a list of other suitable providers that customers can turn to should they find removal of the channel from the cable provider unbearable.
Update #1: December 23 – After replacing the page with a 404 File Not Found error, Disney has disabled the site completely.
Update #2: December 30 – The LA Times reports that Disney has weighed in on the current Fox-Time Warner Dispute
Update #3: December 31 – Disney has also registered DONTLOSEABC.COM and KEEPABCON.COM