Mobile Video

Comcast Scores Disney Distribution

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) have inked a ten-year distribution deal that aims to keep the traditional pay-TV model intact while keeping the budding cord-cutting trend at bay.

In addition to providing ESPN, ABC, other live channels and on-demand Disney shows to traditional set-tops, the deal emphasizes new rights that will let Comcast deliver some of that programming to tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and other connected devices. Depending on the service, some of that content will be accessible to Comcast customers outside the home as components of the new deal are phased in.

Key pieces of the new expanded rights package include:

  • ABC On Demand (ABC's fast-forward-disabled VoD service), ABC Family on Demand and a range of Disney-branded on-demand content.

  • Disney's subscription-VoD service that's linked to the linear Disney Channel

  • The Disney Family Movies subscription-VoD service.

  • Access to authenticated broadband services, including WatchESPN (which includes live, linear feeds that are accessible from in and out of the customer's home), and the soon-to-be-launched WatchDisney Channel, WatchDisneyXD and WatchDisneyJunior services.

  • The rights to air certain content from ESPN3 (currently a broadband-only service), ESPN FullCourt and ESPN GamePlan on Comcast's Xfinity Sports Entertainment Package.

  • Retransmission consent for seven ABC-owned broadcast TV stations.

The companies also agreed to collaborate on new "viewing experiences" for Comcast's pay-TV subscribers over the life of the deal.

Why this matters
Comcast is probably paying through the nose for this deal, but it could lead to higher subscription rates down the road, and it does give the MSO access to Disney's coveted content for delivery to set-tops and new IP-connected devices, with a broader eye toward out-of-home access. The latter piece should also keep Comcast relatively insulated from cord-cutting and over-the-top video competition.

Sports fans will rejoice because the deal also gives Comcast access to the WatchESPN app, filling a competitive hole against Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

For more
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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