The hand wringing is over for Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customers now that the two cable providers have reached a new, long-term programming accord with Walt Disney.
The parties involved announced that an expanded programming deal, which covers far more ground than previous carriage agreements, was signed yesterday afternoon. While the negotiations were extensive and exhaustive, (see this Time Warner Cable blog for more background on the talks the cable operators continued to carry Disney programming, which was in sharp contrast to AT&T pulling Crown Media's Hallmark channels from its 2.5 million subscribers earlier this week.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement without any interruption in service," said Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We thank our customers for their support, and we look forward to launching these new and innovative products and services."
With the deal in place, Verizon no doubt will have to pull its ads that sought to lure viewers over to its service with the threat of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network subscribers missing out on programming from the likes of ESPN and ABC.
The agreement included access to online content from ESPN3.com at no additional cost to all of the cable operators' customers who get ESPN. ESPN3.com has long been missing from Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks' offerings because they opposed being charged fees based on their total number of subscribers when not all of their customers wanted access to the site.
With the ESPN3.com portal, the cable operators' subscribers now have access to live sporting events, such as this summer's World Cup action, and full-game videos of other sports.
In addition to eventually offering ESPN3.com as part of a TV Everywhere service, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks also have the rights to feature cleared content from ESPN3.com on their sports tiers.
Yesterday's press release also made mention of a new authenticated service, which will give Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks subscribers the opportunity to watch the linear networks ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU through their broadband services as well as mobile Internet devices, like an iPad. Details on the launch of the unnamed service are forthcoming.
Programming-wise, the deal covers ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, and SOAPnet, as well as WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville, WTVG in Toledo, and associated HD cable networks.
Time Warner Cable's 12.7 million subscribers and Bright House Networks' subs also have access to more online and VOD content from Disney.
Both of the cable operators will be able to offer Disney Junior when it launches in 2012 as well as sports highlight channels ESPN Goal Line, which will be available tomorrow, and ESPN Buzzer Beater. ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater will be available to the cable operators' sports tier subscribers.
In addition to more VOD content from ABC On Demand and Disney On Demand, the cable operators will also have more Disney-related programming available for their Start Over and Look Back services.