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Charter: ‘We’re Moving On’ If Disney Does Not Accept Fair Offer

Charter portrayed Disney’s offer as “ignoring the realities of today’s video business and [accelerating] its decline.”

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Charter Communications
Courtesy: Charter Communications

Following Thursday night’s incident where channels owned by The Walt Disney Company were abruptly taken off the air for Spectrum customers, Charter Communications held an investor webcast explaining its position in the negotiations. The incident occurred moments before kickoff of ESPN’s college football Thursday night opening game between Florida and Utah, disheartening sports fans and leaving them with more questions than answers. Charter Communications knows that ESPN and the Disney portfolio of networks is important to its business, with estimates stating that about one-fifth of all cable subscribers to the channel receive their service through Spectrum.

During the meeting, Charter affirmed that “the current video ecosystem is broken” and believes it can be part of the solution. Price hikes that would impact all customers, however, are purportedly being offered by Disney that would make the service less affordable for consumers. Charter conveyed that it is an atypical carriage dispute and something that could have significant repercussions on the future of the video ecosystem. The company pays $2.2 billion in annual programming costs to Disney with 25% of their 14.7 million subscribers engaging with its content.

Charter has offered The Walt Disney Company the opportunity to enter into a partnership that it says will help grow the video business. For its customers, Charter shared that they would be able to select different packages with content tailored specifically to factions of offerings that “meet their viewing and budgetary needs.”

Charter believes it can retain parsimonious customers on linear platforms while having the property to incentivize broadband-only customers to purchase its direct-to-consumer (DTC) service. As Disney strives to grow its footprint in the DTC marketplace, Charter has asserted that it can provide a starting point and the ability to augment advertising revenue. In exchange for these market rates, the cable provider also is urging Disney to provide their ad-supported applications, such as Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, within the linear products so customers only pay once for the programming. Charter says that Disney would be able to drive consumers to upgrade and “churn” in the business by establishing “a more sustainable revenue stream.”

In accordance with the proposal, Charter disclosed that it offered The Walt Disney Company a short-term contract extension with penetration mediums; however, the proposal was ultimately shot down by Disney. Charter also publicized that Disney is not willing to accept a short-term contract extension, portraying the company’s offer as “ignoring the realities of today’s video business and [accelerating] its decline.”

The long-term deal from Disney includes higher licensing fees, less packaging flexibility and paying for Spectrum customers that do not receive its channels. Over the last five years alone, the cable industry has lost almost 25% of its total customers, forcing change across the board. In its most recent earnings report, Disney shared that its year-over-year revenue from its linear networks is down 7%, while its operating income also decreased 23%. As it pertains to cable, Disney attributes the decreased income to more costs associated with sports programming and production. At the same time, ESPN+ maintained its approximate level of paid subscribers for the quarter with 25.2 million with a 3% decline in average monthly revenue per paid subscriber.

“We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Charter Communications for some time and have not yet agreed to a new market-based agreement,” The Walt Disney Company said in a statement. “As a result, their Spectrum TV subscribers no longer have access to our unrivaled portfolio of live sporting events and news coverage plus kids, family and general entertainment programming.”

We think the opportunity for customers and all of us as market participants is too big, too important, and too timely to pass up,” Charter Communications President Chris Winfrey countered. “The Walt Disney Company and Charter have the opportunity to work together on transforming the industry for the long-term benefit of both companies and their customers. Without them, we need to pivot to other models to drive value for our connectivity relationships. We are either moving forward together with a collaborative business model, or we’re moving on.”

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‘Hard Knocks’ to Feature AFC North Division for In-Season Edition

“We are ecstatic to expand the ‘Hard Knocks’ universe with our partners at NFL Films to the always thrilling AFC North division race.”

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Hard Knocks AFC North
Courtesy: HBO, NFL Films

HBO and NFL Films have announced that Hard Knocks will spotlight the AFC North in its first in-season edition following an entire division. The 18-time Emmy Award-winning series will feature the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, documenting their journeys during the final six weeks of the NFL regular season and subsequent playoff run for the division champion and teams that qualify in the Wild Card.

Among the athletes within the series are quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, along with other stars such as Derrick Henry, Ja’Marr Chase, Myles Garrett and TJ Watt. This new iteration of the series will take the air on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. EST/PST on HBO and available to stream on Max. New episodes of the series will be available to watch on Tuesdays through the end of the NFL regular season and continue into the NFL Playoffs.

“Last season the AFC North became the first division ever to have all four teams finish with a winning record, making it the perfect place to launch this new approach to ‘Hard Knocks,’” Keith Cossrow, vice president and head of content for NFL Films, said in a statement. “We thank the Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers for the opportunity to showcase some of the greatest rivalries in football and present the intensity of a playoff chase from all four corners of this incredibly competitive division.”

The Ravens were the first team featured on Hard Knocks when the training camp series first premiered in 2001. In the summer of 2009, the Bengals debuted on the program and reappeared in the 2013 edition as well. The Browns were on the show in 2018, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be making the first appearance in the history of the organization. Last season, the Ravens won the division for the first time in four years after the Bengals had secured the division crown in the previous two seasons.

The in-season edition of Hard Knocks spanning an entire division officially renders the series into a venture with coverage of all facets of the NFL season – the offseason, training camp, regular season and the playoffs. HBO and NFL Films announced last month that the New York Giants would be part of the new offseason edition of the show debuting on Tuesday, July 2. Following the conclusion of that series, the training camp edition of the show will return with the Chicago Bears premiering on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

“We are ecstatic to expand the ‘Hard Knocks’ universe with our partners at NFL Films to the always thrilling AFC North division race,” Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller, co-executive vice presidents of documentary and family programming at HBO, along with Bentley Weiner, vice president of sports documentaries at HBO, said in a statement. “In 2024, ‘Hard Knocks’ will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. What a year it will be on HBO and Max for football fans everywhere.”

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NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Averages 3.1 Million Viewers on ESPN Networks

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup.

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ESPN on ABC
Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

The Stanley Cup Final has extended to another game after the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers on Saturday night to attain its first win of the series. While Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Stuart Skinner seek to keep the Oilers’ season alive on Tuesday night, the Panthers aim to close out the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. The Panthers, however, will need to overcome giving up eight unanswered goals to the Oilers in Game 4 in order to achieve that task.

The Game 4 win-or-go-home matchup averaged 3.1 million viewers on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research, which is up 20% from the comparable game last year. ESPN’s broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC peaked at 3.52 million viewers and attained a 1.4 rating, the latter of which is up 15% from last year’s Stanley Cup Final Game 4 between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights televised on TNT, TBS and truTV.

Although the game elicited year-over-year gains, viewership is down 33% from the last Stanley Cup Final Game 4 on ABC, which was a matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022. Moreover, the rating declined by a full share from the 2.4 share the matchup garnered last year. The fourth game of this year’s series is down from Game 2, which averaged 3.56 million viewers with a 1.9 rating, along with the 3.35 million viewers and 1.8 rating for the third game, according to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup in this regard. An average of 1.2 million viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic are watching the Stanley Cup Final, a 25% year-over-year increase as well. Viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic equated to an average of 1.1 million for Game 4, representative of a 20% year-over-year increase.

The Stanley Cup Finals on ESPN platforms have averaged 1.6 million total viewers and 633,000 viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic, a year-over-year increase of 38% and 28% in those categories, respectively. The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) is nearing the conclusion of its third season of NHL broadcasts since reacquiring broadcast rights to the league and will have four more seasons to go on its current seven-year media rights deal.

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Tom Brady Makes FOX Sports Broadcast Booth Debut

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?”

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Screengrab from the UFL Championship game on FOX with Curt Menefee, Tom Brady and Joel Klatt
Screengrab: UFL Championship Game on FOX

If Spring Football gave us anything, it gave us this. Let the record show that the first time Tom Brady analyzed a pro football game from a broadcasting booth as an employee of FOX Sports, it was with teams from Birmingham and San Antonio, with the game being played in St. Louis.

That may someday be a trivia question hardly anyone will be able to answer. For now, it just marks the debut of Brady’s time as a football analyst as part of his 10-year $375 million deal he signed with FOX. Brady was not officially on the call of the UFL Championship game, but he did join play-by-play man Curt Menefee and analyst Joel Klatt in the second quarter on Sunday when the Birmingham Stallions beat the San Antonio Brahmas 25-0 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis

“We bring in a little instant offense,” Menefee said. “You know him, you love him. Tom Brady, legendary quarterback, just had his number retired.”

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?” Brady quipped.

“He is joining us here at FOX sports as I am sure you have heard as an analyst this fall, can’t wait to see him,” Menefee said before asking Brady for his take on what he had seen in the UFL game. “So far, what are your impressions in this early going Championship game, sometimes teams can be a little bit tight, it looks like it may be right here.”

“They’re all a little different when you get into these games,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of defense out there right now. You see the defense out there playing with a lot of energy but someone’s gotta get the ball down the field and try and open this field up a little bit. It’s a lot of horizontal passes and the defense is swarming and trying to punch the ball out. ‘Make them defend every blade of grass,’ that’s what we used to say.’

At the conclusion of the game, Brady was on the field to present the championship game MVP award which went to Birmingham quarterback Adrian Martinez who played for both Nebraska and Kansas State and was the league’s regular season MVP.

Brady is set to work with Kevin Burkhardt this fall on the FOX No. 1 broadcast team. The pair will call the top game for FOX each week starting with the September 8 game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns.

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