NEW YORK — Hours before the first “Monday Night Football” game of the fall, Disney and Charter Communications resolved a business dispute that left nearly 15 million cable TV customers without ESPN and other Disney channels.
Disney said that because of the deal, service to the majority of ESPN customers on Charter’s Spectrum cable system will be immediately restored. Charter confirmed the deal on Monday.
The deal was announced hours before the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills began the season on ESPN and ESPN2. This is the Jets’ first game with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and many Spectrum customers are in the New York area.
Charter had been trying to access Disney’s streaming services for its customers, and as part of the deal, both parties said the Disney+ ad-supported service and ESPN+ would be offered to select Spectrum customers. They also said that ESPN’s direct-to-consumer service, which is still being worked on, will be part of the Spectrum service.
Under the agreement, Spectrum will offer customers a lineup of 19 Disney-owned stations. Charter was looking for more flexibility to allow cable customers to pick and choose the networks they want as part of their service.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Our shared goal has always been to create an innovative model for the future,” said Disney CEO Robert Iger and Charter CEO Chris Winfrey in their joint statement.
“This agreement recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services while meeting the evolving needs of our customers,” they said.
Many television viewers were less concerned with the business details than with the fact that they couldn’t watch ESPN during the opening weekend of the US Open tennis tournament and college football season.
But Monday’s encounter between one of the NFL’s strongest teams, the Buffalo Bills, and the New York Jets, led by new quarterback Aaron Rodgers, was another big deadline.