Bringing a nice holiday present to DirecTV subscribers, Disney and the satellite provider signed a major agreement that fills in some programming holes that had been sorely lacking. This keeps ESPN and its family of networks including ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes and SEC Network on DirecTV’s channel lineup.
It adds the seasonal ESPN Buzzer Beater (college basketball) and Goal Line (college football) channels to the lineup and as well as the University of Texas-centric Longhorn Network.
In other good news for DirecTV subscribers, it enables access to the long-awaited Watch services (WatchABC, Watch Disney Channel and yes, WatchESPN). Subscribers will have to authenticate through their DirecTV accounts and this should become a reality in early 2015. In addition to being available on through the networks’ various mobile and tablet apps, the linear channels will be streamed on the DirecTV Everywhere apps.
DirecTV subscribers had been awaiting the addition of these apps for quite some time and negotiations between the satellite provider and Walt Disney had been ongoing since the late summer. As part of the talks, DirecTV added SEC Network in time for the channel’s first day of operation so viewers would be able to pick up the sports action from the beginning.
The agreement between DirecTV and Disney expired at the end of September, but the two sides continued to negotiate without any interruption of service or any of the rancor that has plagued carriage talks among other providers including Dish and Time Warner.
In addition to adding the streaming services, the two sides will explore establishing over the top service possibilities for DirecTV subscribers.
From the press release:
“DIRECTV customers will also be able to utilize expanded viewing functionality on select content across Disney/ESPN/ABC channels, and will have access to ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3, and SEC Network’s digital platform, SEC Network +.”
There’s no word as to when the new channels will be added to DirecTV’s lineup, but expect that to be within the first months of 2015. In addition, ESPN Classic will be dropped from the TV lineup and it will become an on-demand service.
The new agreement also covers ABC’s local channels in Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and San Francisco.
Due to its sports rights fees, ESPN is the most expensive channel on cable and satellite. There’s no word on how much the satellite provider will have to pay per subscriber, but consider that it will bring more money into Bristol’s already burgeoning coffers. And this agreement guarantees that there won’t be any disruption of service for ESPN and its sister Disney networks for a long time to come.
No financial details of the agreement have been released, but this provides stability to ESPN on DirecTV plus adds features that had been missing under the previous contract. And yes, customers can expect their bills to go up, but by exactly how much is not known at this time.