Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal allowing Comcast Corp. cable customers access to all of its popular channels — including ESPN, ABC, ABC Family and the Disney Channel — from portable devices and video-on-demand services.
The expansive deal, announced Wednesday, will allow Comcast's more than 22 million cable customers who sign up for its Xfinity service to watch the Disney channels live or on-demand either while they are in their homes or on the go via their tablets or other portable devices.
This is the first time that Comcast has agreed to pay for local retransmission of ABC-owned TV stations. For the last three years, broadcasters have been negotiating with cable companies to pay for signals that they previously provided for free.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The agreement also marks the first time that Disney has provided live streaming and earlier video-on-demand access to its stable of entertainment channels as well as sports juggernaut ESPN. Time Warner Cable customers have access to "Watch ESPN," the Disney-owned network's authenticated streaming service.
Disney and Comcast said that 70 services would be covered in the new long-term distribution agreement.
The networks and services covered by the agreement also include Disney Junior (a new 24-hour basic cable channel for preschoolers), Disney XD, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN 3D, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN3. It also covers retransmission consent for seven ABC-owned broadcast television stations, among them WABC-TV New York and WLS-TV Chicago.
Philadelphia-based Comcast will provide its Xfinity TV customers with the suite of live Disney networks on an authenticated basis, meaning users must register to verify they are cable customers.
“Comcast was the first video provider to create technology that enabled us to deliver content to customers where and when they want it across any viewing experience,” Neil Smit, chief executive of Comcast Cable, said in a statement.
“We are very pleased to have reached this unprecedented and innovative, long-term agreement with Disney which embraces the future of entertainment and allows Comcast to continue to bring our vision of TV Everywhere to Xfinity customers whether at home or on the go," Smit said.
Comcast said that license fee schedules for services covered in the deal would be phased in.
Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks, added, “This landmark deal is a great example of what can be achieved when programmers and distributors collaborate and innovate together to meet the ever-evolving needs of consumers and enhance the viewing experience. "
— Meg James
Photo: Ginnifer Goodwin stars in ABC's new hit "Once Upon A Time." Credit: Chris Helcermanas-Benge / ABC.