Stemming from a new deal with Disney that ties together traditional channels and certain streaming apps, Charter has begun to offer the ESPN+ streaming service to customers on its new sports package at no additional cost.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

March 7, 2024

2 Min Read
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Charter Communications has begun to bundle in the ESPN+ streaming service with "TV Select Plus," the operator's new sports package, for no added cost.

Charter will support ESPN+ on Xumo streaming boxes it's now distributing to new video subs as well as other platforms that support ESPN+, including Android and iOS mobile devices, Fire TV streamers and smart TVs, Apple TV boxes, Android TV-powered media players and smart TVs, LG and Samsung smart TVs and Roku players and Roku TVs.

The move should provide additional exposure to ESPN+, which offers about 30,000 live events each year and has about 26 million subscribers. Charter ended 2023 with 13.50 million residential pay-TV subs.

Linked to new Disney deal

Charter's inclusion of ESPN+, which costs $10.99 per month or $109.00 per year on a standalone basis, stems from Charter's new distribution agreement with The Walt Disney Company. That deal, announced last fall, also paved the way for Charter to bundle in the ad-supported tier of Disney+ for no additional cost.

That deal also clears the way for Charter to offer the coming ESPN flagship direct-to-consumer streaming service, which is set to launch in the fall of 2025. Under that same deal, Charter agreed to undisclosed rate increases, but also got the okay to drop several Disney channels deemed non-core, including Disney XD, FXX, FXM and Nat Geo Wild, among others.

Charter cut that deal amid a broader strategy to tie together traditional linear TV channels with new streaming apps, and to ensure that its pay-TV subs aren't being forced to pay twice for the same content.

Another recent example of that is Charter's new multi-year deal with TelevisaUnivision that will bundle in an ad-supported version of the ViX premium streaming service later this year for no added cost to Charter video subs on its Spectrum TV Select or Mi Plan Latino packages.

Charter (and other pay-TV distributors) is expected to migrate to similar structures as programming deals come up for renewals.

Speaking Wednesday at the Morgan Stanley Technology Media and Telecom Conference, Charter President and CEO Chris Winfrey said he's fine with programmers wanting to sell their services on a direct-to-consumer (DTC) basis, and that Charter is also agreeable to offering them on the Xumo platform, so long as it makes financial sense.

"We'll be happy to distribute that, obviously at a margin," he said.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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