Charter CEO Urges Swift Resolution to Distribution Dispute with Disney
Charter Communications CEO, Chris Winfrey, has emphasised the urgency of resolving the ongoing distribution dispute with Walt Disney.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology conference, Winfrey expressed his concern for Charter's consumers who have been caught in the middle of the battle. The dispute revolves around negotiations between Charter, the second-largest cable company in the US and Disney regarding the value of Disney's channels and how they should be packaged.
As a result of the dispute, Charter's Spectrum cable service no longer carries popular Disney channels such as ESPN and ABC. This has left nearly 15 million video subscribers without access to major events like the US Open tennis tournament and college football. While carriage disputes are common in the media industry, this particular negotiation could have significant implications for the future of television in the streaming era.
Winfrey cited rising content prices, limited flexibility in programming packages and the burden of cable subscribers subsidising streaming services as the key factors driving Charter's stance. He expressed a desire to quickly resolve the dispute to alleviate the impact on customers. However, Winfrey also mentioned the possibility of a future where Spectrum cable no longer carries Disney content, resulting in a smaller package of general entertainment programming at a lower price, with sports potentially being sold separately.
In response to Charter's position, Disney issued a statement expressing its readiness to resolve the dispute and act in the best interests of Charter's customers. The statement also criticised Charter for denying consumers access to their programming during significant events like the US Open and college football.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Charter's payment to Disney has increased from $2.16 billion in 2019 to just under $2.3 billion in 2023. However, ratings for Disney-owned networks have declined by over 50% in the past decade. This dispute highlights the challenges faced by cable companies in balancing rising content costs with consumer demands and preferences.
Charter Communications CEO, Chris Winfrey, emphasises the urgency of resolving the distribution dispute with Walt Disney.
The dispute revolves around the value of Disney's channels and how they should be packaged.
Charter's Spectrum cable service no longer carries popular Disney channels, leaving millions of subscribers without access to major events.