Spectrum subscribers are currently unable to view any of ESPN’s channels on cable due to an ongoing dispute between Disney and Charter Communications, the parent company of Spectrum. But that may soon to be changing.
Just hours ahead of ESPN’s first “Monday Night Football” broadcast, Disney and Charter reportedly are expected to reach a deal that would allow Spectrum users to regain access to ESPN and other Disney channels, according to CNBC.
It is never a good time for a blackout like this to occur, but it has been especially poor timing given the start of the NFL season, college football and a number of other high-profile sporting events that are on ESPN and its family of platforms. However, it appears as though the dispute between the two sides will soon be resolved.
Here are the latest updates on the ESPN and Spectrum dispute and how to watch ESPN without cable.
ESPN and Spectrum dispute updates
Monday, Sept. 11
CNBC reported that the blackout fight between Disney and Chart is coming to a close, as the two sides are expected to reach a deal. The terms of the deal are unclear on Monday, but it will allows Spectrum users access to watch the “Monday Night Football” game between the Bills and Jets.
Before the deal was made, both Disney and Charter announced they were offering streaming deals to fans as the dispute continues.
Disney had said Friday that it has a promotion to make Hulu + Live TV $49.99 for a new user’s first three months. Spectrum followed up over the weekend by promoting its own deal, offering a free trial for streaming service Fubo.
Customers were already blocked from watching much of the weekend’s college football action as Charter’s dispute with Disney, which owns the ESPN family networks, nears two weeks.
Saturday, Sept. 9
SEC issued a statement about alternative ways to watch ESPN leading into a big weekend for the conference, which includes Ole Miss vs. Tulane and the game of the week: Alabama vs. Texas.
“As negotiations continue between Charter Communications and Disney Entertainment, Spectrum cable customers who are seeking SEC programming on ESPN channels, including SEC Network, can easily find and sign up for ESPN channels across all other major TV streaming providers like DirecTV, Sling, Hulu, YouTubeTV and FuboTV.”
Thursday, Sept. 7
As of Sept. 7, there has been no update to the ongoing feud between Disney and Charter.
It is an important day as it marks the start of the 2023 NFL season, and ESPN broadcasts “Monday Night Football” every Monday throughout the season.
As of now, Spectrum users will still be unable to watch the game on cable, however, there are other streaming options to catch the action.
Monday, Sept. 4
Disney released another statement on Labor Day, this time talking directly to its customers and explaining the other ways that consumers could watch ESPN and other Disney content.
“Disney deeply values its relationship with its viewers and is hopeful Charter is ready to have more conversations that will restore access to its content to Spectrum customers as quickly as possible. However, if you are one of these frustrated customers, it can be infuriating to not be able to access the content you want. Luckily, consumers have more choices today than ever before to immediately access the programming they want without a cable subscription.”
In the statement, Hulu + Live TV, Fubo, Sling TV, YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream were listed as alternate options to view ESPN and its family of channels.
Sunday, Sept. 3
Three days pulling its content from the Spectrum network, Disney released a statement of its own, countering Charter’s claims that the prices were too expensive.
Instead, Disney pointed the finger at Charter for declining an extension to negotiations and for requests that they felt would “not make economic sense.”
Here are the two main talking points from Disney’s press release:
- Although Charter claims that they value their customers, they declined Disney’s offer to extend negotiations which would have kept Disney-owned networks up for consumers in the middle of perennial programming events like the US Open and college football.
- Even though Charter also claims to value Disney’s direct-to-consumer services, the cable company is demanding these different services for free—as they have stated publicly—which does not make economic sense. Moreover, it does not make sense for consumers who desire the flexibility to have our streaming platforms as standalone services.
Friday, Sept. 1
Charter published a document on Sept. 1 detailing what was going on behind the scenes with Disney and their stance on the dispute.
In the document, Charter listed out the following as reasons for the ongoing stalemate between the two sides, putting the blame on Disney:
- The multichannel video product is too expensive and packages don’t meet consumer needs
- Customers are leaving the traditional video ecosystem and losses have accelerated
- We still believe video is an important part of our connectivity offering, but the video product has been devalued and the ecosystem is broken
- Disney – so far – has insisted on a traditional long-term deal with higher rates and limited packaging flexibility
- Charter proposed a model that creates a better value for consumers and the industry
Thursday, Aug. 31
On the final day of August, Disney pulled all of its channel from Charter, leaving Spectrum customers without an ability to watch ESPN and other Disney channels live on cable.
This was the result of an ongoing dispute between Disney and Charter. A new deal has to be negotiated between the two sides for Charter to get the rights to stream’s Disney’s content, which includes ESPN, however, the pair are not seeing eye-to-eye in the discussions, resulting in Charter customers temporarily losing the ability to watch any of Disney’s channels on cable.
How to watch ESPN without Spectrum
While ESPN and Spectrum continue their standoff, there are other ways for Spectrum customers to watch the network.
Fubo carries the entire ESPN family of networks, so you’ll be covered for all of the NFL’s 2023 contests with that service. It offers a free trial for users in the United States.
Hulu + Live TV is another available streaming platform. It is the only one that includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN.
In addition, other streaming options that carry ESPN are DIRECTV Stream, Sling TV and YouTube TV.
|Streaming option||Cable subscription needed?||Free?||Cost||Free trial?|
|NFL+ (mobile only)||No||No||$6.99/month||Yes|
|Hulu + Live TV||No||No||$69.99/month||Yes|
Will Spectrum get ESPN back?
It is currently unclear if Spectrum will get ESPN back on its platform.
Spectrum has reportedly said multiple times that they are willing to walk away from Disney, and in doing so, never offering any Disney-owned channels to its customers again. They are willing to dig in their feet and potentially lose customers over this battle.
Charter has launched a website — disneyespnfairdeal.com — which discusses the carriage disagreement. In response, Disney created its own website — keepmynetworks.com — which highlights the company’s previous history with negotiating deals with other TV providers.
When will ESPN be back on Spectrum?
It is unclear when ESPN will be back on Spectrum.
Considering both sides have been adamant about not budging on their stance, there is a chance that this saga is dragged out for months.
However, if a deal is made, then ESPN could be back up and available on Spectrum in no time.