Spectrum-Disney blackout continues, Max sports streaming

This week on TechHive: Spectrum’s Disney blackout is good, actually

When ESPN and other Disney channels went dark on Spectrum last Thursday, I wrote in the next morning’s newsletter that it seemed like any other carriage dispute.

Boy, was I wrong. Instead of just bickering over carriage fees, Charter (which operates the Spectrum brand) wants Disney to help salvage the cable bundle by giving customers more flexibility and access to popular streaming services. Disney would rather keep things as they are, with higher pay TV prices to help cover its losses in streaming. The blackout continues as of this morning.

Loath as I am to side with a cable company, Charter is right. The cable bundle in its current form is a bad deal for customers and unsustainable for the TV business, and restructuring it would benefit everyone in the long run. If Disney disagrees, Charter should just let the whole thing come crashing down.

Read the full column on TechHive →

Weekly rewind

The curious case of Spectrum credit: Meanwhile, some Spectrum TV customers say they’ve received a $15 bill credit by complaining about the Disney blackout to customer service. But as Phillip Swann reports, Spectrum won’t officially confirm the offer, and it may just be a one-time deal. It’s probably worth doing if you have the time, at least.

Max’s sports moves: Sources tell Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw that Warner Bros. Discovery is preparing to stream live sports on Max this fall, but the story’s being widely misinterpreted—or just misrepresented—by the press.

To quote Shaw directly (emphasis mine): Warner plans to offer “live sports at no additional cost on its Max streaming service for a limited period of time later this year,” and will start charging extra in February or March. I take this to mean that you’ll still need a paid Max subscription. Several other publications have claimed that Max will stream live sports for free, but that’s not what the Bloomberg report says.

Anyway, the idea that Max’s sports coverage will eventually cost more than the core service is interesting, because it diverges from cable model in which everyone—sports fans or not—helped shoulder the exorbitant price of sports rights. TV networks have always fought putting sports on pricier packages—that’s even part of the Spectrum-Disney dispute—but they may have little choice in the streaming world, where customers can walk away if the price gets too high. Warner’s approach will be one to watch.

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