ABC, ESPN, and Other Disney Channels Restored on Dish and Sling TV

Dish Disney logos
Dish Network, The Walt Disney Co.

UPDATE (10/3/2022):

Dish and Sling TV customers are sure to be thrilled as the providers restored access to Disney-owned TV channels which had been disabled over the weekend.

Disney and Dish have reportedly come to an agreement for the time being, according to Deadline, after a dispute led to the networks including ABC, ESPN, FX, Nat Geo, and Disney Channel going dark at midnight on September 30. “We have reached a handshake agreement with DISH/Sling TV, which properly reflects fair market value and terms for The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled content,” Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution said in a statement shared by Deadline. “As a result, we are pleased to restore our portfolio of networks on a temporary basis while both parties work to finalize a new deal.”


(Credit: ABC)

ORIGINAL STORY (10/2/2022):

Some customers of Dish and Sling TV likely got a rude shock when they sat down to watch television this weekend: The two television providers have dropped Disney-owned TV channels, including ABC, ESPN, and FX, in a dispute with The Walt Disney Company.

The channels — which also include Nat Geo and Disney Channel — dropped off the lineup for Dish Network, the satellite TV provider, and Sling TV, Dish’s streaming TV service, at midnight Pacific on Saturday, October 1, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dish claims that Disney was demanding a billion-dollar fee for its contract renewal. The company also says Disney wanted Dish to include ESPN and ESPN2 in all Dish TV packages and to require most Dish customers to pay for local ABC channels that have been optional until now, according to Variety.

“Disney has exploited its market position to increase fees without regard for the public viewing experience,” Brian Neylon, executive vice president and group president for Dish TV, said in a statement, per THR. “Clearly, Disney insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, especially sports fans and families with children who watch their content.”

But a Disney spokesperson argued that it had offered Dish a contract similar to those it has with other pay-TV providers. “After months of negotiating in good faith, Dish has declined to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us for continued distribution of our networks,” the spokesperson said in a statement, per Variety. “As a result, their Dish and Sling TV subscribers have lost access to our unrivaled portfolio of live sports and news plus kids, family, and general entertainment programming from the ABC-owned television stations, the ESPN networks, the Disney-branded channels, Freeform, the FX networks, the National Geographic channels, and BabyTV.”

The Disney rep continued: “The rates and terms we are seeking reflect the marketplace and have been the foundation for numerous successful deals with pay-TV providers of all types and sizes across the country. We’re committed to reaching a fair resolution, and we urge Dish to work with us in order to minimize the disruption to their customers.”

Disney channels briefly dropped off the YouTube TV lineup after negotiations broke down in December 2021, but blackout threats have been much more common on Dish in recent years as the satellite TV company has been aggressive in its negotiations with content providers, THR reports. A Univision blackout on Dish lasted for months between 2018 and 2019, for instance, while HBO dropped off the Dish lineup in 2018 and didn’t return until 2021.

Including its Sling TV customers, Dish currently boasts 10 million pay-TV subscribers.