Disney Strikes Deal With Dish Network to Save ESPN and ABC

Disney channels and content will return to Dish Network and Sling TV just a day after a carriage dispute saw Dish/Sling customers lose access to television channels owned by The Walt Disney Company. On September 30th, 20 Disney TV stations — including ABC, ESPN, FX, Disney Channel, and National Geographic — went dark after the two companies failed to reach what Disney called "a fair, market-based agreement with us for continued distribution of our networks." Late Sunday, October 2nd, Disney said it reached a "handshake agreement" with Dish to satellite and its Sling streaming service.

"We have reached a handshake agreement with DISH/Sling TV, which properly reflects fair market value and terms for The Walt Disney Company's unparalleled content," Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution said in a statement Sunday. "As a result, we are pleased to restore our portfolio of networks on a temporary basis while both parties work to finalize a new deal."

The dispute came as Disney's ABC airs episodes of such fan-favorite series as Abbott Elementary and Big Sky: Deadly Trails, also disrupting sports fans' access to the NFL and MLB on ESPN.

On Saturday, Dish alerted its customers that its contract had expired with The Walt Disney Co. On Twitter, Dish said its "goal and priority is to reach a fair agreement to bring their channels back as quickly as possible."

"Disney has exploited its market position to increase fees without regard for the public viewing experience," Brian Neylon, executiveVP and group president for Dish TV, said in a statement Saturday. "Clearly, Disney insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, especially sports fans and families with children who watch their content."

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In their own statement issued Saturday, a Disney spokesperson said, "After months of negotiating in good faith, Dish has declined to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us for continued distribution of our networks. The rates and terms we are seeking reflect the marketplace and have been the foundation for numerous successful deals with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country. We're committed to reaching a fair resolution, and we urge Dish to work with us in order to minimize the disruption to their customers."

Upset customers who tried accessing ABC, ESPN, FX, and other Disney channels during the Dish blackout saw a message reading: "Our contract with Disney has expired. Our goal and priority is to reach an agreement with Disney that ensures you get the best possible value from Dish. We are working to bring your channels back as quickly as possible."