Dish and Disney have reached a “handshake deal” to immediately return Disney’s collection of cable networks to Dish satellite and Sling TV customers. The two companies confirmed the agreement late Sunday night. “We are pleased to temporarily restore our network portfolio as both parties work to finalize a new deal,” Disney said in a statement.
Dish and Sling TV subscribers can now access ESPN (and its networks) again, along with other channels such as The Disney Channel, FX, National Geographic, local ABC programming in select markets, and more. The blackout lasted for two days, and although it included college football on Saturday, the two companies resolved the situation in time for ESPN’s next broadcast of Monday night football.
On Saturday, Dish accused Disney of “walking away from the negotiating table” while trying to renew their contract of carriage. “Disney is more interested in becoming a monopolistic power than offering its programs to viewers on fair terms,” Dish said in a press release after the previous deal ended. Dish claimed Disney wanted “nearly a billion dollars more” in fees compared to the expired deal, forcing Dish to bundle ESPN for more of its satellite TV plans, including some that don’t currently include sports networks.
Disney responded by saying the terms “reflect the market and have been the basis for numerous successful deals with pay-TV providers of all shapes and sizes across the country.” Feuds over carriage renewal between programmers and TV providers are nothing new — Disney and YouTube bumped into each other last year — but this was unusual because Dish didn’t give his customers much warning before the October 1 blackout arrived.
Now the question is whether Dish and Sling TV customers will see a price increase on the subscription in the near future once the two parties reach a definitive agreement. Sling TV’s Orange tier, the package that includes Disney networks, currently costs $35 per month. That’s one of the cheapest ways to get linear ESPN compared to services like YouTube TV, which costs $64.99 per month, and Disney’s own Hulu with Live TV offering, which costs $69.99 per month.