As a new year approaches, as does the expiration date of Verizon FiOS and Disney's cable contract.
In anticipation of a hardball negotiation, Disney has begun airing ads to warn Verizon FiOS customers that they might lose their networks beginning with the new year. "The spots carry the message 'don’t lose your shows,'" Deadline reports. "They say that ESPN, Freeform, the Disney Channel and local ABC stations in New York and Philadelphia could go dark by this time next week if the parties cannot reach an agreement."
With ESPN set to host some major events in the coming weeks, including the College Football Playoff games, sports seems to be the centerpiece of the campaign for Disney. "Sports is a central issue in the carriage impasse, as it often is," the report goes on. "ESPN is preparing to broadcast the two College Football Playoff semi-final games, which have been two of the highest-rated live telecasts in all of television in recent years. The network also has an NFL wild-card playoff game in early January." The College Football National Championship will also air on the Disney-owned ABC in January.
The contract between Disney and Altice had previously run out in 2017 but both parties managed to come to an agreement to avoid any sports blackouts through the year. The carriage of sports remains a valuable bargaining chip for Disney as future contracts come into play.
“Our proven history of providing extraordinary value to consumers and distributors is unmatched,” Disney said in a stateent. “Our negotiations continue in earnest and we remain optimistic that we can reach a deal.”
Verizon also offered a statement on the matter: “We are actively negotiating with Disney to ensure the best deal for our customers.”
As Disney gears up to launch its Disney+ streaming service in 2019, the media giant seems to have the power in this bargaining war as Verizon FiOS faces losing their content. As the story progresses, ComicBook.com will have updates posted on site.