The New York Post is reporting that despite a month of Chicken Little sky falling tactics, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) and the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) have settled their differences and have "come to terms" on a new carriage agreement. Had no agreement been reached, it's likely Disney's stable of programs, including ABC, ESPN and the fairytale channels, would have gone dark on TWC systems.
The deal comes as millions of TWC subscribers prepared for life without football--or at least life without ESPN-provided football--if the two companies couldn't agree. ESPN, a Disney channel, was only part of the contention between the two. Another, perhaps as big and loomingly important part, was the availability of ABC's shows on the Internet. Disney is in talks with Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) about putting those shows out there on competing platforms and that didn't sit well with TWC.
The fact that the deal was reached at the eleventh hour--much as a deal between Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC) and Disney was reached just as the Academy Awards were getting under way last spring--lends an air of cynicism to the very public spat that the two companies conducted. Both had, at times, cried wolf; both had sullied the reputations of the other. As last as last Friday, TWC executive Jeff Simmermon blogging that Disney's history is one of disputes with service providers and "switching providers isn't going to get rid of a problem with Disney when Disney is the problem."
Now, at least according to the Post, peace has been restored; football games will be played and seen, and the new ABC fall lineup will be broadcast on cable systems. How and why? "Few details of the pact have emerged," the story said.
Ah ah ah ... don't touch that dial! There's more to come.
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