Disney and Comcast reach a long-term deal

January 4, 2012

(AP) -- The Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday that it reached a long-term agreement with the nation's largest TV signal provider, Comcast Corp., that extends their partnership into the next decade.

The 10-year deal covers major pay channels ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family and the retransmission of free ABC programs through seven ABC TV stations. It allows Comcast subscribers to gain greater access to shows on demand over the Internet on multiple devices.

Terms were not disclosed.

The deal comes as TV distributors and content owners continue to spar over fees to carry programming.

In the New York area, a dispute between and The Madison Square Garden Co. has left some without access to Knicks basketball or Rangers hockey games since early in the new year.

Disney and Comcast agreed on the package covering 70 channels or services even though only a few agreements covering ABC Family, Disney Channel and Disney XD had expired at the end of 2011. The companies agreed that a long-term comprehensive deal was in both their interests.

Comcast and Disney called the scope and range of the deal "unprecedented."

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

The deal incorporates Comcast's Xfinity TV online suite of programs and gives its 22.4 million video subscribers online access to services such as ESPN3, which offers live feeds of games that are sometimes not on the television network. Comcast subscribers will also be able to watch ABC shows such as "Castle" and "Grey's Anatomy" on demand, but they won't have the option of fast-forwarding through commercials.

Comcast also agreed to carry the pay TV channel Disney Junior, a rebranded network focused on children up to age 7 that will replace the SOAPnet channel in February.

Disney shares rose 49 cents to $38.80 in afternoon trading. Comcast shares rose 10 cents to $24.59.

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