Disney, DISH bury hatchet and ink long-term content deal

Editor | 04-03-2014

In a move described by the parties as ‘ground-breaking’, the Walt Disney Company and DISH Network have signed a multi-platform distribution agreement.

What makes the deal more significant is that it comes as the parties were in the throes of a bruising legal battle concerning use of DISH’s AutoHop ad-skipping technology. This litigation will now be dismissed with DISH disabling AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The deal also provides a structure for other advertising models as the market evolves, including dynamic ad insertion, advertising on mobile devices and extended advertising measurement periods.

From a content perspective, the renewal agreement will give DISH customers access to Disney’s sports, news and entertainment content across televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and connected devices. The companies say that deal supports a mutual goal to deliver the best video content to customers across multiple platforms by strengthening the value of the multichannel video.

DISH will now have rights to stream cleared linear and video-on-demand (VOD) content from the ABC-owned broadcast stations, ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN2, as part of an Internet-delivered, IP-based multi-channel offering. It will also for the first time offer customers access to Disney’s authenticated live and video-on-demand products, including WatchESPN, WATCH Disney, WATCH ABC Family and WATCH ABC both in the home and on the go. DISH will make available Disney Junior, Fusion, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, as well as Longhorn Network and the upcoming SEC ESPN Network upon its launch.

In addition, DISH, ESPN and ESPN Deportes customers will have access to the live and ESPN3 VOD channel. ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Disney Channel and ABC Family will be available in HD and ESPN Classic will be reintroduced as a VOD service.

“The creation of this agreement has really been about predicting the future of television with a visionary and forward-leaning partner,” said Joseph P Clayton, DISH chief executive officer and president. “Not only will the … Disney, ABC, ESPN entertainment portfolio continue to delight our customers today, but we have a model from which to deliver exciting new services tomorrow.”

“We knew early on we had a responsibility with this deal to not only do what was best for our business, but to also position our industry for future growth,” added Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group. “After months of hard work and out-of-the box thinking on both sides, led by Bob Iger and Charlie Ergen, this agreement, one of the most complex and comprehensive we’ve ever undertaken, achieves just that. Not only were innovative business solutions reached on complicated current issues, we also planned for the evolution of our industry.”