In a new story of David vs the Goliath, Altice USA, better known as Optimum, is the first cable network that has dared to push a fee hike from a media group. Consumers living in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania could potentially be affected by the dispute.
Walt Disney Co has stated it will pull its content from Altice USA, the fourth largest cable distributor in the country if both parties are unable to reach a deal by the end of this month.
As per NY-based Altice, which is owned by a European conglomerate, despite low rating, Disney is wanting “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new fees, so that it can continue to carry ESPN and ABC on its network.
With the old contract set to expire at the end of this month, both parties have been working feverishly on a new contract that will replace the existing one.
“We are always working hard to negotiate carriage agreements that reflect the best interest of all our customers. We want to carry ESPN and its sister networks, including ABC and Disney, at a reasonable rate and have already offered an increase in retransmission fees and sports programming costs,” said Altice in a statement.
The vast majority of Altice’s customers live in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania.
Walt Disney stated it has an obligation to warn customers about the potential loss of programming and has disagreed with Altice’s characterization of the fee hike.
“Our contract with Altice is due to expire soon, so we have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming,” said Disney’s spokeswoman said in a statement. “We remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so.”
Although disagreement between cable companies and media groups over the cost of carrying channels, are common, this disputes has gained significance since this is the first time a cable company has pushed back an attempt to gulp down a fee hike for ESPN, a very popular sports network.
According to Altice, the demand for “exorbitant fee increases” comes at a time when there is a decrease in viewership with Disney wanting to force customers who do not receive ESPN to pay for it anyway.
Altice went on to add, the blame for rising cable bills can be squarely laid on high fees: ESPN is the most expensive basic cable channel in history.