Disney (s DIS) and Time Warner Cable (s TWC) have settled their retransmission negotiations, finalizing a deal that will keep ABC, ESPN and Disney networks on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network cable systems. But the big news from an online video perspective is that Disney is creating its first authenticated, TV Everywhere-type broadband video service for its ESPN networks as part of the deal.
As part of the deal, Disney will establish an authenticated service enabling Time Warner Cable subscribers to view linear and on-demand content from ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU networks online on their PCs and, at some point in the future, through mobile devices like the Apple (s AAPL) iPad. According to earlier reports, online video was one of the key sticking points in the negotiations of the deal, which we now know includes the introduction of a TV Everywhere-type service for the ESPN networks.
It’s important to note that the new ESPN TV everywhere service is separate from Disney’s ESPN3 offering, which is not authenticated and doesn’t have a network equivalent. The ESPN3 broadband service has long been available to subscribers of some pay TV providers, like Comcast (s CMCSA), AT&T (s T) and Verizon (s VZ), that had affiliate deals with Disney. This deal will mark the first time that Time Warner Cable subscribers will also be able to access ESPN3.
While the establishment of the new ESPN service is clearly important, the more pressing issue was keeping Disney, ABC and ESPN programming on Time Warner cable systems. As part of the deal, Time Warner Cable will continue to carry ABC Family, the Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, and SOAPnet, as well as ABC affiliate stations in New York, L.A., Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville and Toledo. The agreement also adds Disney Junior, a new basic cable channel for preschool-aged children that will begin in 2012.
The deal also includes wide-ranging additions to Time Warner Cable’s video-on-demand services, including ABC On Demand, a VOD service that disables fast forwarding and ad skipping, local sports programming on demand in major metropolitan markets, a subscription VOD service for Disney Family Movies and a new pay-per-view VOD service for select Disney and ABC content. The deal also includes the launch of ESPN 3D on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network cable systems.
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