Los Angeles Business Journal

Disney Reaches Comcast Agreement

By Deborah Crowe Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Walt Disney Co. late Wednesday said it reached a 10-year agreement to have its cable channels and ABC network carried by Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable TV provider.

Disney’s carriage agreement with the Philadelphia company covers 70 channels and services, including major pay channels ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family. It also includes retransmission of ABC broadcast network programs through seven ABC TV stations, and enables Comcast subscribers to get wider access to shows on demand over the Internet on multiple devices.

Terms were not disclosed, but SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine told Bloomberg News that Disney may receive $22 billion to $25 billion for ESPN programming alone over the life of the deal. Comcast and Disney said a long-term deal covering all channels was in the best interest of both companies. They described the scope and range of the pact as "unprecedented."

"It reinforces the value of the multichannel subscription and takes full advantage of new technologies, which serve all of our viewers," said ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer in a statement.

The agreement reflects the changing ways viewers watch their favorite shows, marking the first time a wide variety of Disney cable channels will stream content to pay-TV customers who also want programming on their computers and mobile devices. Subscribers to Comcast's Xfinity TV online service, for example, will be able watch ESPN, ABC or Disney shows live or on demand and across multiple screens. Comcast also will launch Disney Junior, a new 24-hour basic channel aimed at the families of preschool-age children.

In a separate announcement, Meredith Corp. said it signed an agreement with Disney Publishing Worldwide to acquire the print and digital properties of FamilyFun magazine. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal includes the print magazine, which targets mothers with children ages 3 to 12 and focuses on family activities, such as cooking and crafts. It has audience of about 6 million. Several special interest publications and digital magazine applications were included in the sale.

Both deals were announced before the Wednesday markets closed. Disney shares closed up 54 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $38.85 on the New York Stock Exchange.