Comcast, Disney renew carriage deal

ACC Network part of pact

While retrans disputes are becoming more and more common, at least there are some companies who can come to a deal without any problem.

The latest example came a few days ago when The Walt Disney Co. renewed their carriage pact with Comcast to continue carrying their channels uninterrupted on their Xfinity platform. 

“We’re very happy to extend our longstanding relationship with Comcast and continue to provide their Xfinity customers with Disney’s best-in-class programming,” said EVP and platform distribution president Sean Breen of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution in a statement. “In addition to our news, sports and general entertainment offerings, the launch of the ACC Network in the coming weeks, paired with the renewal of the SEC Network, will give Xfinity’s college sports fans long-awaited access to their favorite games.”

The deal reached with the nation’s largest cable operator includes ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Freeform. The pact also includes cable channels acquired by Disney in the $71.3 billion 21st Century Fox deal in 2017, such as FX, FXX, and National Geographic. 

Of greater importance to Xfinity subscribers in the Chicago area, the renewal agreement also includes top-rated WLS-TV and ABC’s other owned-and-operated stations where Comcast operates, including WABC New York, WPVI Philadelphia, and KTRK Houston. 

In addition, Xfinity customers will now receive the ACC Network, a network run jointly by ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference, featuring collegiate sports, joining the SEC Network, which was also included in the renewal deal.

Unlike Dish and DirecTV and a few other cable operators, Comcast generally avoids high-profile retrans disputes – perhaps a big reason why Chicago has mostly escaped these situations as in the past as the Philadelphia-based company is the dominant cable operator. The previous Comcast-Disney deal expired September 30 but did not make the news public as both sides continued to work toward a new contract. 

But there are exceptions – Comcast is currently involved in spats with MSG Network and Colorado’s Altitude Network resulting in the channels being absent from Xfinity and in the past, sparred with YES as all three are regional sports networks. In the last decade, Dish has sparred with Fox and Nexstar and DirecTV has fought with CBS and the former Tribune Media, resulting in blackouts for Chicago area viewers. Currently, NBC Sports Chicago or Marquee isn’t being carried by Dish. 

The good news for Chicago cable subscribers is at least they don’t have to worry about the most-watched local station in the market and the metro area’s dominant cable operator getting into any kind of retrans spat for the foreseeable future.

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