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AT&T and Disney Agree to Temporary Extension For ESPN, Disney, Freeform, SEC Network, & Others to Avoid Blackout For Now

Jason Gurwin

Earlier in the week, DIRECTV and AT&T TV NOW customers were greeted with a message that they might lose ESPN, Disney Channel, and Freeform.

Now that last night’s midnight deadline passed, the channels still remain up on DIRECTV and AT&T TV NOW. While those deals don’t look like they’ve been officially renewed, our sources have confirmed to us that the companies have continued to negotiate past the deadline with the channels remaining live. The extensions have been reportedly as short as a few hours, with multiple extensions put in place since last night’s deadline.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal, channels like ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ACC Network, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, Freeform, and ABC owned-and-operated locals will all be dropped. ABC owns local channels in New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Raleigh-Durham NC, and Fresno-Visalia CA.

Full List of Channels

  • ABC O&O Locals
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN Classic
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN3
  • ESPN Goal Line
  • ESPN Bases Loaded
  • SEC Network
  • ACC Network
  • The Longhorn Network
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney XD
  • Disney Junior
  • Freeform

AT&T has responded to us with the following statement:

We’re disappointed to see The Walt Disney Co. put their viewers into the middle of negotiations. We are on the side of consumer choice and value and want to keep each of the local ABC stations and Disney’s national sports and entertainment channels in our AT&T TV customers’ lineups. We hope to avoid any interruption to the services some of our customers care about.

Our goal is always to deliver the content our customers want at a value that also makes sense to them. We’ll continue to fight for that here and appreciate their patience while we work this matter out.

In their own statement, Disney has said:

“Our contract with AT&T for the ABC, ESPN, Disney, and Freeform networks is due to expire soon, so we have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming. However, we remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so.”

The latest carriage negotiation comes just six weeks after CBS nationally was dropped in major markets on DirecTV and nationally on DIRECTV NOW (now known as AT&T TV NOW). Prior to that, Nexstar, the largest local affiliate owner, had their channels dropped DirecTV, DIRECTV NOW, and AT&T U-Verse.

While both have since come to a deal, AT&T has been embroiled in content disputes since early July. While it is highly unlikely that Disney would see their channels dropped from DIRECTV, it will probably go down to the wire. In the Spring, the service renegotiated deals with Viacom and A+E, while dropping NFL Network.

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