Disney, ESPN's parent company, has reached a deal with cable provider Charter to restore the channel to its 14 million subscribers after a days-long blackout that extended into the beginning of football season.
The new multi-year distribution agreement will result in the majority of Disney’s networks and stations, including ESPN, being immediately restored to Charter's customers.
The Wall Street Journal reported that as part of the deal Charter agreed to higher carrier rates for Disney’s channels in exchange for the ability to provide Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming services to its pay-TV subscribers.
“This deal recognizes both the continued value of linear television and the growing popularity of streaming services, while addressing the evolving needs of our consumers," Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and Chris Winfrey, president and CEO at Charter Communications, said in a joint statement announcing the deal. "We also want to thank our mutual customers for their patience this past week, and are pleased that Spectrum viewers once again have access to Disney’s high-quality sports, news and entertainment programming, in time for Monday Night Football.”
The deal was struck just hours before ESPN's first NFL broadcast of the year: a prime-time matchup between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets that is expected to net an audience of millions.