Millions of customers lose ESPN as football season starts

Thinking about watching college football on ESPN this weekend? Not so fast, my friend. Millions of Spectrum customers might be unable to watch.
ESPN College GameDay hosts Lee Corso, left, and Kirk Herbstreit confer during a telecast.
Posted at 8:48 AM, Sep 01, 2023

This weekend marks Week 1 of the college football season. But millions of Spectrum customers might not be able to view some of the games. 

ESPN, the Disney Channel and other networks owned and operated by Disney were pulled from Spectrum TV. According to Cordcutting, Spectrum is the second-largest cable provider in the U.S. with 18.4 million subscribers. 

Subscribers who turned to a Disney-owned channel on Spectrum were given a screen that claimed Disney was demanding an "excessive increase" carriage fees. 

"They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want," Spectrum said. "Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice."

What are the new rules intended to shorten college football games?
Georgia celebrates winning its second title in a row.

What are the new rules intended to shorten college football games?

NCAA officials believe games will have fewer plays in 2023 as compared to prior years.


Spectrum said the following networks are affected: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN News, SEC Network, ACC Network, Longhorn Network, FX, FX Movie Channel, FXX, Freeform, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD and BabyTV. 

In addition, ABC stations owned by Disney in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno were pulled off the air.

In a presentation that will be presented to investors on Friday, Spectrum's parent company Charter Communications said that about 25% of its video subscribers "regularly engage" with Disney content. 

The presentation noted that many cable viewers have left traditional cable and that a traditional long-term agreement does not meet consumer needs. 

"Charter wants to reach an agreement with Disney but as a portion of Disney/ESPN engaged viewers downgrade their video services with Charter, there will be even less incentive to force tremendous cost and a broken model on our remaining video customers," Charter said. 

Scripps News left a message with Disney for reaction and is waiting to hear back.