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Sling TV, DISH Drop Disney-Owned Channels Including ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC in Carriage Dispute

Jason Gurwin

For the second time in the last twelve months, Disney is in a carriage dispute with a live TV streaming service. Disney confirmed to The Streamable that the company was unable to reach a deal with DISH and Sling TV to retain more than 17 Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, the Disney Channel, FX, [Nat Geo], and in the case of Dish, ABC affiliates.

“We will continue to negotiate to provide the best value for our customers. We want to provide customers with fair rates, reliable service and the freedom of choice to pay for the channels they watch most,” added Gary Schanman, executive vice president and group president, SLING TV. “Disney is an important long-term partner for us, and we hope they will be reasonable in their demands so we can reach a fair agreement and bring our customers’ channels back as quickly as possible.”

In a statement to The Streamable, Disney said:

After months of negotiating in good faith, DISH has declined to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us for continued distribution of our networks. As a result, their DISH and Sling TV subscribers have lost access to our unrivaled portfolio of live sports and news plus kids, family and general entertainment programming from the ABC Owned Television Stations, the ESPN networks, the Disney-branded channels, Freeform, the FX networks, the National Geographic channels and BabyTV.

The rates and terms we are seeking reflect the marketplace and have been the foundation for numerous successful deals with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country. We’re committed to reaching a fair resolution, and we urge DISH to work with us in order to minimize the disruption to their customers.

If you’re going into college football Saturday looking for other alternatives to Sling TV, that carry ABC locals, as well as ACC Network, Disney Channel, ESPN, Freeform, FX, National Geographic, and SEC Network, here are your options.

The dispute comes at a particularly important time for sports fans as we are about to start the NBA and NHL seasons, MLB playoffs, and are in the thick of the NFL and college football seasons.

In a statement to Sling customers, the company said, “Our goal and priority is to reach an agreement with Disney that ensures you get the best possible value from Sling. We are working to bring channels back.”

In the meantime, customers of Sling TV Orange, which is primarily made up of Disney-owned channels, are being given 50+ channels at no extra charge including MTV, Paramount Network, CMT, Hallmark Channel, REELZ, Nicktoons, and more.

In a post on their Dish Promise Blog, Dish said of the failed negotiations:

  • We were not able to reach a mutual renewal agreement with Disney and without a contract in place we are legally required to remove their channels from our service.
  • We offered Disney a contract extension to keep working towards an agreement and avoid any interruption to your service, but they refused this offer and walked away from the table.
  • We even offered Disney an extension to keep the local Raleigh, North Carolina, ABC channel on, but it is unfortunate that Disney couldn’t agree on this. They took away important weather and local news from our customers in this area at a critical time.
  • Disney, like many other channel owners, knowingly use this contract renewal time to try and increase the amount of money cable and satellite TV companies pay for their programming.
  • Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Disney has leverage this aggressive tactic of removing their channels from paid TV providers.
  • Not too long ago, they took their channels away on YouTube TV and they have threatened to do the same with many other providers in the past including AT&T, DirecTV, Verizon Fios and Altice Cable.
  • Disney hopes by doing this you will get upset and ultimately contact DISH to put pressure on us to accept their higher rates.

This is the second major dispute between Disney and a live TV streaming service in the last year. Last December, Disney channels went dark for 36 hours after Disney and YouTube TV were unable to reach a deal. Ultimately, the two sides were able to come to an agreement for the channels to return.

Most recently, Dish and Sling TV lost GSN for three weeks as part of a carriage dispute. A similar impasse took place between Dish/Sling and FOX back in September 2019, which lasted 10 days before FOX, FS1, and the Big Ten Network returned to the service.

What Channels Did Sling TV & Dish Lose?

The channels involved in the dispute are:

  • Local ABC Channels (only on Dish)
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
  • Disney XD
  • Freeform
  • FX
  • FXX
  • FXM
  • Baby TV
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Wild
  • Nat Geo Mundo
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3
  • ACC Network
  • SEC Network
  • Longhorn Network

What Are Your Alternatives to Keep Watching Disney-owned Channels?

Here are your alternative live streaming services to consider. We’ll break down the pros and cons of each.

DTV STREAM Fubo Hulu Philo Sling TV YouTube
Free Trial Free Trial Sign Up Free Trial GET 50% OFF Sign Up
$74.99 $85.98 $69.99 $25 $40 $40 $72.99
ABC - -
ABC News Live - - - -
ACC Network ≥ $99.99 - ^ $11 -
Disney Channel - -
Disney Junior - ^ $6 -
Disney XD - ^ $6 -
ESPN - -
ESPN2 - -
ESPN3 - -
ESPNEWS ≥ $99.99 ^ $8 - ^ $11 -
ESPNU ≥ $99.99 ^ $8 - ^ $11 -
Freeform - -
FX - -
FXM ≥ $109.99 ^ $8 - - ^ $6
FXX - - ^ $6
Nat Geo Wild ≥ $109.99 ^ $8 - - ^ $6
National Geographic - -
SEC Network ≥ $99.99 - ^ $11 -


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