Despite Disney and Time Warner Cable's announcement earlier this week that they were close to making a new carriage agreement, Thursday’s deadline has arrived with no deal in place.
On Monday, the two companies released nearly identical statements claiming they had made “significant progress” on their talks. As a sign of good faith, they dialed down their rhetoric and pulled attack ads they had been lobbing at each other for much of the past month.
A spokesperson for TWC said she did not believe that the more than 15 million cable subscribers will lose the signal for a suite of channels, including ABC Family, ESPN, and the Disney Channel. She did note, however, that it would be Disney’s decision. (Disney did not respond to requests for comment.)
Sports fans, many of whom fear that there will be a blackout of ESPN’s coverage of the start of college football season, are keeping their fingers crossed.
Disney is trying to hike up the fee it charges TWC for retransmission of its programming and for its online sports service, ESPN3.com. Analysts expect that in exchange for averting a blackout, Disney may hike its fees by 5 to 10 percent, amounting to concessions of up to $110 million annually. That increased cost will likely be passed along to consumers.