Comcast, Walt Disney Sign Long-Term TV Carriage Deal

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The 10-year agreement, which Disney's Anne Sweeney calls a "landmark deal," will also make content available on new devices and in new digital forms.

NEW YORK - Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable operator, and the Walt Disney Co. have signed a long-term TV network carriage agreement that will also make content available on new devices and in new digital forms, the companies said Wednesday.

It will "deliver Disney’s top quality sports, news and entertainment content to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers into the next decade on television, online, on tablets and handheld devices," they said. "For the first time ever, Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch ESPN, ABC or Disney shows live or on demand and across multiple screens." The agreement includes on demand and out-of-home viewing of content as both companies are trying to protect the pay TV eco-system, but also make more TV content available under an industry-wide "TV Everywhere" initiative.

The comprehensive deal, which brings together in one bundle what used to be a slew of separate content deals that used to expire at different times, gives Comcast access to more current Disney content across various platforms than other operators, a source said.

PHOTOS: Anne Sweeney Tops THR's 2011 Women in Entertainment Power 100 List 

Under the new deal, Comcast will launch Disney Junior, a new 24-hour basic channel for preschool-age children and parents. The cable giant will also provide its Xfinity TV customers with a suite of live Disney networks on an authenticated basis. 

Financial terms and the length of the arrangement weren't disclosed, but sources said it will run for 10 years - like a previous Comcast arrangement with CBS Corp.

Overall, "70 services are covered by the broad scope of this new agreement," the companies said. License fees for different services will be phased in over time.
 
“Comcast was the first video provider to create technology that enabled us to deliver content to customers where and when they want it across any viewing experience,” said Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit. “We are very pleased to have reached this unprecedented and innovative, long-term agreement with Disney which embraces the future of entertainment and allows Comcast to continue to bring our vision of TV Everywhere to Xfinity customers whether at home or on the go.”
 
Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said: “This landmark deal is a great example of what can be achieved when programmers and distributors collaborate and innovate together to meet the ever-evolving needs of consumers and enhance the viewing experience.”

Comcast said it also obtained rights to air certain content from ESPN3, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN GamePlan as part of its Xfinity Sports Entertainment Package. Among the other content services that Comcast subscribers will get under the new Disney deal are:

ABC On Demand:
ABC’s fast-forward-disabled on-demand service, which features a selection of primetime entertainment programming, such as Castle, Grey's Anatomy, Once Upon A Time and Revenge. Full current seasons will be made available for a number of shows. There will also be access to ABC News programming as well as some local ABC owned-station content.

The Disney Channel’s subscription VOD service:
It offers on demand access to select episodes of TV shows before they air. It will now be available for free to Xfinity TV customers who receive Disney Channel.

ABC Family On Demand:
The service features full episodes, refreshed monthly, from such popular millennial hit shows as The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Melissa & Joey. Full current seasons will be made available on a number of shows. 

Disney Family Movies:
The subscription on-demand service features a selection of classic and contemporary feature films and animated shorts from The Walt Disney Studios.
 
Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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