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Disney, Charter Reach Carriage Agreement Ahead of Monday Night Football

This pact ends a blackout that lasted for more than a week and led to a contentious back-and-forth.

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The Walt Disney Company-Charter
The Walt Disney Company Logo - Courtesy: Brendan McDermid, Reuters | Charter Logo - Courtesy: Charter Communications

The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications have reached a deal that will bring the company’s vast portfolio of networks, including ESPN and ABC, back to nearly 15 million households. This pact ends a blackout that lasted for more than a week and led to a contentious back-and-forth as Disney televised sporting events such as the US Open finals, college football matchups and the revamped First Take featuring Shannon Sharpe.

Questions remained pertaining to whether or not subscribers would be granted access to watch star quarterback Aaron Rodgers make his New York Jets debut on Monday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. EST/5:20 p.m. PST, something that consumers immediately have access to now that a deal has been reached. The company reportedly pays the National Football League $2.7 billion per year for the rights to the property, which has flex scheduling ability for the first time this season.

As part of the new deal, Spectrum customers will receive the services at a discount, something that could help incentivize sign-ups. The Disney+ basic ad-supported offering will be included for Spectrum TV Select package customers within a wholesale arrangement. Additionally, Disney will receive a higher annual fee despite the diminishing profitability of the linear television business.

“Our collective goal has always been to build an innovative model for the future. This deal recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services while addressing the evolving needs of our consumers,” The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications said in a joint statement. “We also want to thank our mutual customers for their patience this past week and are pleased that Spectrum viewers once again have access to Disney’s high-quality sports, news and entertainment programming, in time for Monday Night Football.”

Spectrum customers will receive a curated lineup of 19 networks from the company – including ESPN, ABC-owned television stations, FX and National Geographic. Networks that will no longer be offered to Spectrum customers include Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform and FXX; however, Charter will use “its significant distribution capabilities” to provide the company’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) services. ESPN’s flagship DTC service, upon launch, will be made available to Spectrum TV select subscribers, while ESPN+ is being provided to Spectrum TV Select Plus subscribers.

Charter Communications Chief Executive Officer Chris Winfrey held a meeting with investors earlier in the month outlining the company’s belief that “the current video ecosystem is broken” and that it could be part of the solution. Within Charter’s offer of a partnership was the ability to augment advertising revenue and help grow the company’s DTC services.

In exchange, the cable provider wanted Disney to provide its ad-supported applications, including Disney+ and Hulu, free of charge to its customers so they do not have to pay multiple times for the same programming. Charter offered Disney a contract with penetration mediums that was rejected, leading Charter to claim that negotiations for a short-term contract seemed to be off the table.

The company had reportedly paid Disney around $2.2 billion per year for carriage rights to networks such as ESPN, ABC, FX and Lifetime among others – and the cessation of such a revenue stream could have impacted live sports rights for years to come. ESPN is set to report its own earnings for the first time this year, believed to be in November, during which people will gain an inside look into the balance sheet of the Disney subsidiary.

In response, Disney asserted that its linear television networks and streaming platforms were not equal because of differences in content and investments. Last quarter, revenue for the enterprise’s linear networks was down 7% year-over-year (YOY), while its operating income declined 23%.

Streaming networks retained similar levels of paid customers with a concurrent 3% decline in average monthly revenue per paid subscriber. Nonetheless, both entities recognize the effects of cord-cutting with 8 million households ending television bundles approximate year-to-date. Moreover, there has been a near 25% abatement in total linear customers over the last five years, expediting the necessity for innovation to discover new ways to reach these audiences.

Charter stated that it would need to find new ways to benefit their connectivity relationships and, in turn, ensure sustained growth and profitability. In fact, Winfrey indicated that the corporation would seek to negotiate similar terms in future contracts. As a result, it was prepared to move on should the sides not reach an agreement on a collaborative business model.

Amid strikes by both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), live sports and shoulder programming are fueling interest in linear television. Last year, National Football League games alone accounted for 88 of the 100 most-watched television programs, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. Live rights fees continue to rise as well during a moment when the industry is embracing the coalescence of traditional and digital distribution mediums.

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The Masters on ESPN Averages 3.17 Million Viewers, Most-Watched First Round Since 2015

Consumers are able to watch The Masters throughout Friday utilizing ESPN+, Masters.com or The Masters App in addition to the linear telecast at 3 p.m. EST.

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The Masters on ESPN 2024
Courtesy: ESPN

As golfers tee off from Augusta National for the 88th playing of The Masters, ESPN averaged 3.17 million viewers for its coverage of the opening round on Thursday. This is the most-watched first round since the 2015 edition of The Masters drew 3.22 million viewers, a final national number that does not include out-of-home viewing. ESPN began broadcasting coverage of The Masters in 2008 after USA Network had covered the first two rounds since 1982. The average of 3.17 million is the fourth-highest on record, only being surpassed by the iterations of the tournament held in 2015, 2009 and 2010. Ratings for the tournament were first reported by Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

The opening round of the tournament last year averaged 2.51 million viewers, making this year’s broadcast a 26% year-over-year increase. Furthermore, the 2024 Masters opening round was up 12% from 2022 when it attained an average of 2.82 million viewers. ESPN was able to achieve this total despite initial play being delayed by rain; however, it was able to present several top golfers on the course including Tiger Woods, who had to complete his first round on Friday morning before playing a full second round of golf.

Coming into Friday, LIV golf pro and 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau was at the top of The Masters leaderboard with a 65 at seven under par. PGA Tour pro Scottie Scheffler sat in second with a 66 and six under par. Consumers are able to watch The Masters throughout Friday utilizing ESPN+, Masters.com or The Masters App in addition to the linear telecast at 3 p.m. EST.

Scott Van Pelt, Curtis Strange, Michael Eaves and Geoff Ogilvy are broadcasting live from Augusta National throughout the tournament, bringing fans key moments, interviews and analysis. The network also aired coverage of the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday afternoon, which drew an average of 650,000 viewers on the network and featured Sean McDonough, Curtis Strange and Marty Smith on the call.

ESPN is broadcasting The Masters for the 17th consecutive year, coverage of which is preceded by Welcome to the Masters hosted by Laura Rutledge with features, interviews and tournament highlights. ESPN Deportes is also broadcasting from Augusta National with announcers John Stucliffe, Hernán Rey and Matias Anselmo. The third and final rounds will be aired in Spanish on ESPN Deportes from 5 to 6 p.m. EST on Saturday and 5 to 7 p.m. EST on Sunday.

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Cynopsis Announces 2024 Sports Media Awards Winners

You can find a list of the winners for the 2024 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards below:

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Cynopsis Sports Media Awards 2024
Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Logo – Courtesy: Cynopsis Media

Cynopsis held its 2024 Sports Media Awards ceremony on Thursday night in New York City, revealing winners across a variety of different categories. In addition to awards within categories, Cynopsis also granted standalone honors to different professionals in the sports media space. The ceremony was hosted by Colin Cosell, public address announcer for the New York Mets, New York Riptide and several Division I college teams. You can find a list of the winners for the 2024 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards below:

Navigator Award

  • Carolyn Tisch Blodgett
    • CEO and Founder | Next 3

Trailblazer Award

  • Keith Dawkins
    • President | Harlem Globetrotters and Hersch and Entertainment Studios

Engagement Innovation Luminary Award

  • Nickelodeon | CBS Sports
    • Kyle Moffat | Senior Director, Unscripted Development | Nickelodeon
    • Jennifer Bryson | Vice President, Production – Tentpoles, Events, Music & Specials | Nickelodeon
    • Shawn Robbins | Executive Producer/Coordinating Producer | CBS Sports

Excellence in Media Luminary Award

  • YES Network
    • Jared Boshnack | Vice President, Productions | YES Network

Brands of the Year

  • Carmax
    • Brandy Everhart | Director of Media & Partnerships | Carmax
  • Toyota
    • Dedra DeLilli | Head of Sponsorships | Toyota

All-Stars

  • Alexa Landestoy
    • Host/Reporter | Monumental Sports Network
  • Aliyah Funschelle
    • Sports Content Creator | Sports with Aliyah
  • Buster Scher
    • Founder | The Buster Agency, Hoops Nation
  • Sofia Tsachouridou
    • Senior Corporate Counsel | DraftKings
  • Laura Sonday
    • Editor-in-Chief | TennisONE LLC

Award Category Winners

CategoryAward WinnerTitle or Company
Activation at Live EventNew York JetsNew York Jets x LED Wristbands
Awareness Campaign for a Social Good by a Brand/Cause/LeagueWashington CommandersWashington Commanders Salute to Service Programming
Best Campaign to Engage with Consumers 30 and YoungerNFL MediaYouth Flag Football “Let’s Play”
Best Expansion of Team Marketing Outside North AmericaNew York JetsNew York Jets x Chicago Bears UK Girls Flag Football League
Best Fan Engagement ToolHang MediaHang Media
Best in Content Storytelling by a BrandNFL MediaDiana Flores – Super Bowl Commercial Surprise
Best in Content Storytelling by a LeagueHarlem GlobetrottersHarlem Globetrotters
Best in Team Communications/MarketingFOX SportsFOX Sports Communications & Marketing
Best Marketing Campaign by a College or UniversityLSU AthleticsThat Kid Jayden
Best Platform Geared to Diverse Sports Interest and AthletesNew York JetsEmpowHER: Keep Rising
Best Social Responsibility ActivationDIRECTVDIRECTV Soccer Champions Tour – “Goals for Good”
Best Social Responsibility ActivationThe Coach Knapp Memorial FundThe Coach Knapp Stair Climb
Best Streaming Platform InnovationPrime VideoPrime Vision with Next Gen Stats
Best Use of a FAST ChannelSportsGridSportsGrid: #1 Sports FAST Channel
Best Use of Brand Activation – Women’s Sports PropertiesHang MediaHang Media
Best Use of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) by a Brand, Athlete or SchoolMuscle Milk/WNBA – Own Your StrengthMuscle Milk/WNBA – Own Your Strength
Best Use Overall of Web 3.0 from AR and VR to AINickelodeonSuper Bowl LVIII Live From Bikini Bottom
Broadcast/Consumer Tech InnovationCBS SportsDoink Camera
Digital ExecutiveKelly PrachtnVenue
Diversity InitiativeHarlem GlobetrottersHarlem Globetrotters
Documentary Series or Special – IndividualESPNSC Featured: Nothing Else Matters, Alexandra Nolen
Documentary Series or Special – TeamBig Ten NetworkB1G Story: Nebraska Volleyball
Esports EventONE EsportsONE Esports MPL Invitational 2023
League of the Year for Breakthrough SportSlamBallSlamBall
Live Coverage of a Sporting Event (Regional/Local)Bally Sports SouthSpecial Hall of Fame Booth Calls Braves vs Mets Thriller
Live Coverage of a Sporting Event (Regional/Local)Marquee Sports NetworkCubs Walk-Off vs White Sox
Live Coverage of a Sporting Event (National)TelemundoEl Clásico de México: Chivas vs. América
Live Stream PresentationPrime VideoBlack Friday Football
Live Stream PresentationProcter & Gamble (P&G)P&G Battle of the Paddles
Marketing Campaign (National)FOX Sports2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: USA vs The World
Marketing Campaign (Regional/Local)Washington Wizards2023-24 City Edition Boundary Stone Campaign
Marketing ExecutiveKristen HerlihyOmaha Productions
Mobile AppONE EsportsONE Esports Mobile App for Samsung Galaxy
New Sports ShowMonumental Sports NetworkCaps Red Line
New Sports ShowThe VolumeNightcap
Overall Social Media Excellence (Brand)Bleacher ReportBleacher Report
Overall Social Media Excellence (Limited Run/Campaign)NBAThe Larry O’Brien Trophy’s NBA Finals Bucket List
Pregame ShowTelemundoCopa Mundial Femenina de la FIFA: La Antesala
Production ExecutiveTherese AndrewsOmaha Productions
Reality/Docu-SeriesNew York JetsFlight 23: Ascension
RSN of the YearMarquee Sports NetworkMarquee Sports Network
Seasonal Coverage (National)Omaha ProductionsMonday Night Football with Peyton and Eli
Seasonal Coverage (Regional)Marquee Sports NetworkChicago Cubs on Marquee Sports Network
Spoken Word Series – English/Non-EnglishNBC, Telemundo, On Her Turf and LemonadaMy New Favorite Futbolista
Spot (30 seconds) – NationalFOX Sports“Goalkeeping” – FOX Sports + Geico
Spot (30 seconds) – RegionalYES NetworkNY Liberty – Season Tease
Spot (Over 30 seconds) – NationalFOX SportsUndisputed: Eulogy
Spot (Over 30 seconds) – RegionalYES NetworkYES – We Got Nets
Studio ShowPrime VideoTNF Tonight/TNF Halftime/TNF Nightcap
Tune-In PromotionFOX Sports2023 NASCAR Daytona 500: Metallica
Use of Integrated Sponsorship for BroadcastHaworth Marketing + MediaSports Change Lives with Integrated Sponsorship of NCAA Basketball
Webisode SeriesBleacher ReportHero Ball

Presenters

  • Jessica Berman
    • Commissioner | National Women’s Soccer League
  • Bonnie Bernstein
    • Founder & CEO | Walk Swiftly Productions
  • Nate Burleson
    • Analyst & Host | CBS, CBS Sports & Nickelodeon
  • Noah Coslov
    • Broadcaster & Personal Producer
  • Nathan Lindberg
    • Owner | MONEYBADGER Consulting LLC
  • Nancy Newman
    • Yankees Batting Practice Today Host & Yankees and Nets Pre- and Post-Game Studio Anchor | YES Network
  • Christina Norman
    • Head of Content | National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)

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‘Voices’ Returns With New Episode Sunday on FOX

Former MLB pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia will make a special appearance with an essay tribute to Jackie Robinson within the episode.

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FOX Sports
FOX Sports Logo – Courtesy: FOX Sports

The award-winning series, Voices, from FOX Sports that features diverse sports stories that impact community and culture will be returning to the air with a new episode on FOX this Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m. EST. Hosted by FOX NFL reporter Kristina Pink, the presentation will honor legacies within sports that have paved the way for future generations, including Jackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Madison Hammond, Caitlin Clark and Camryn Bynum.

Ahead of Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, April 15, FOX Sports is commemorating the 77th anniversary of his MLB debut that broke the color barrier. Former Major League Baseball pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia will make a special appearance with an essay tribute to Robinson within the episode.

Additionally, the show will provide a profile on Reggie Jackson’s Mr. October Foundation, which is focused on providing access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for underserved youth in several communities. Aside from its work in New York City, Detroit, Oakland and St. Louis, the organization also cultivates pathways of employment.

Voices will highlight Angel City FC defender Madison Hammond, who is the first Native American to play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Throughout the segment, it aims to display the historic representation and how she is a role model to aspiring indigenous female athletes around the world. Iowa Hawkeyes point guard and NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader Caitlin Clark will be highlighted through a vignette as well. The presentation will include her run to the national championship and her greater effect on women’s sports.

Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum and the work he performs through the Bynum Faith Foundation in the Philippines will also be promulgated. The organization brings awareness regarding community hardships and provides long-term support and disaster relief with the goal of restoring hope, faith and love to underserved communities both in the Philippines and in the United States. Bynum recently introduced Camp Beezy, a program that makes the sport of American football accessible to young athletes in the Philippines, and will be part of the episode as well.

Voices will also feature a look into the history and culture of marching bands at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). This part of the show features interviews with band leaders from Tennessee State University and Virginia State University, along with performances from both schools. Moreover, Florida A&M University (FAMU), Southern University, Alabama State University, Norfolk State University, Jackson State University, Langston University, Texas Southern University and Morgan State University will be included in the performances.

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