Disney asks Spectrum customers to switch to Hulu+ amid Charter dispute

(Reuters) – Walt Disney on Monday said it is hopeful that Charter Communications will be ready to have more conversations to reach a distribution deal that will restore access to Disney’s content and urged Spectrum customers to switch to Hulu’s live service to access channels blacked out on Charter.

Disney and Charter are locked in a spat over a distribution agreement after Disney pulled several channels, including ESPN off Charter’s Spectrum cable service last week in the middle of U.S. Open tennis coverage and other live sporting events including college football.

Disney, which owns a majority stake in Hulu, asked Spectrum customers to sign up to Hulu+ Live TV, which has Disney’s library of entertainment content, live channels, and ad supported access to Disney+ and ESPN+.

“Despite the ongoing dispute, consumers have many other choices—such as Hulu + Live TV—that allow them to enjoy the great programming for which Disney Entertainment is known,” the company said in a statement.

Charter’s dispute with Disney stems from the fee Disney charges for its content at a time when cable TV viewership is on the decline and streaming on the rise.

The cable operator, which serves more than 32 million customers in 41 states, has been paying about $2.2 billion in annual programming costs to Disney, excluding the impact of advertising revenue for both parties.

(Reporting by Granth Vanaik and Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)