If you’re a Charter Spectrum customer trying to access channels including ABC stations, ESPN and the Disney Channel, you’ve seen the blue screen and QR code pop up instead of your regular programming. The code links to a landing page that speaks to Walt Disney Co.’s decision to pull programming from the cable television provider.
Starting Sept. 1, Walt Disney Co. pulled its channels, including ESPN and ABC stations, from Charter Communications’ Spectrum pay-TV — a direct result of an escalating dispute over fees that could ultimately change how viewers access televised entertainment.
In a statement, Charter Communications said “the current video ecosystem is broken.”
“With The Walt Disney Co., we have proposed a model that creates better alignment for the industry and better choices for our customers,” the statement said. “We are hopeful we can find a path forward.”
The dispute affects more than 5 million customers in California, a third of Charter Spectrum’s total customers nationwide.
It particularly dampens the mood for sports lovers gearing up for the start of the NFL season and families wanting children’s programming.
While you wait for the resolution to the impasse, there are other ways to access these channels.
Where can I watch sports and other Walt Disney programming?
If you’re looking to stick with a TV provider in your area, your options include Cox, DirectTV and Dish. Each provider has various packages, and the basic plans include some Disney-owned programming.
- Cox offers packages that start at $56 a month; its second plan, at $99 a month, includes ESPN. Cox’s TV services are contract free, but it does have a 24-month service agreement that allows you to make changes or cancel during the first 39 days of service.
- DirecTV allows you to connect to its service using an internet connection or satellite dish. To subscribe with existing an internet connection, packages start at $64.99 a month plus fees — this package includes ESPN, FX and the Disney Channel. DirecTV has a 24-month programming commitment for new customers when activating its services.
- Dish TV service requires a satellite dish, and packages start at $79.99 a month for 190 channels. All of Dish’s services come with a two-year commitment and an early-termination fee.
Consumers who are ready to ditch cable providers can turn to streaming services that connect to their smart TV or a connection device such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast or Apple TV.
TV streaming services DirecTV Stream, YouTube TV, Sling TV and Fubo have live sports and news, as well as kids’ and family entertainment from the ABC-owned television stations, the ESPN networks, the Disney-branded channels, Freeform, the FX networks and the National Geographic channels.
ABC-owned television stations are also available over the air at no cost to the customer.
- YouTube TV costs $72.99 a month. It offers more than 100 live and local channels. At an additional cost, customers can access the NFL Sunday Ticket, or the bundled NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone. The Sunday Ticket is an additional per-season cost of $349. The bundle that includes Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone, is $389 per season. YouTube TV is running a promotion for a reduced price on both add-ons; each add-on has a payment-plan option.
- Sling TV, a subscription/app-based service, offers packages starting at $20 a month. The basic package includes 32 channels — ESPN, the Disney Channel, Freeform and live local channels included. Families interested in adding channels such as Disney Junior (and five other related channels) can do so for an additional $6.
- Fubo offers 176 channels including the Disney Channel and ESPN for a basic package costing $74.99 (additional taxes and fees may apply).
In Disney’s latest update on the negotiations saga, it said Hulu + Live TV — Disney owns a majority stake in Hulu — is another option to acces its programming.
The live streaming service, which bundles Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ as well as 90 live channels, is $69.99 a month. The offer doesn’t come with a contract tie.