Comcast, Disney Resolve Impasse, Strike Content Deal
The pact solves a couple of issues for the companies and for viewers. Though cable subscription rates are falling in the face of cord-cutting and burgeoning OTT services, Xfinity still reaches millions of households, and live sports remains one of the only instances of “appointment viewing” for dedicated fans. Maintaining carriage of ESPN, Disney-owned regional sports networks, and the company’s portfolio of family-friendly content helps Comcast sustain its value proposition to households.
At the same time, as the growth of the Disney+ streaming service appears to be slowing in domestic markets, this deal keeps the company’s content in front of viewers. The agreement also shores up the integration of Disney+ and ESPN+ with Comcast’s Xfinity platform, which simplifies access for cable subscribers.
“We’re very happy to extend our longstanding relationship with Comcast and continue to provide their Xfinity customers with Disney’s best-in-class programming,” said Sean Breen, EVP, Platform Distribution, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.
Rebecca Heap, SVP, Consumer Products & Propositions, Comcast Cable, concurred. “We are very pleased to have reached this comprehensive agreement with Disney to continue providing Xfinity customers access to their content across our industry-leading platforms,” she said.
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Industry observers believe that whatever detente between the two powerhouses was struck in today’s deal only kicks the larger potential showdown further down the road. Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, is promoting the Peacock streaming service as a rival to Disney+ in both sports and entertainment programming. Another delicate balance was upset in 2019 with Disney’s acquisition of Fox Networks, giving Disney a majority stake in, and operational control of, the Hulu service, where Comcast, through NBC Universal, is also a partner. Comcast is expected to formally withdraw from Hulu by 2024, setting the stage for increased competition.