Charter starts including Disney+ with ads in Spectrum TV packages

Customers of Spectrum TV Select video plans from Charter can now get access to the ad-supported version of Disney+ included in their pay TV packages at no extra cost, the companies announced Thursday.

Charter is rolling out the streaming service option on all Spectrum TV Select packages nationwide. The addition of Disney+ with ads (called Disney+ Basic) is the result of the companies’ new type of distribution agreement reached last year, following a temporary carriage dispute and channel blackout. At the time Charter contended that in the face of rising programming costs, video customers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying twice for similar content when much of Disney’s linear content had migrated to and is available on its direct-to-consumer streaming services. It was successful in getting Disney’s flagship ad-supported DTC app as well as ESPN+ included in certain TV packages at no extra cost to consumers and agreed to market apps to the operator’s large base of broadband-only customers. Charter leadership has indicated it plans to seek similar deals with other programmers as it looks to blend linear and streaming.

Disney+ hosts movies and shows from brands like Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic, among others.

“The inclusion of Disney+ alongside a curated lineup of our TV channels brings the best of both worlds from Disney’s unrivaled entertainment portfolio to Charter’s video customers,” said Justin Connolly, president of Platform Distribution at The Walt Disney Company, in a statement.

Charter has been looking to evolve its video business in the face continued industry shifts amid streaming, including bridging with linear options. It’s also doing so through the Xumo joint venture with Comcast, which debuted the Xumo Stream Box last fall to offer a more unified and easy viewing and browsing TV experience for customers.

“With the launch of the Disney+ Basic offer, TV Select customers can now enjoy access to Disney’s popular streaming content as well as their high-quality linear TV channels, all included as part of one video package,” said Tom Montemagno, EVP of Programming Acquisition for Charter, in a statement. “As the video industry continues to evolve, we are committed to including direct-to-consumer apps like Disney+ with Spectrum services while providing a simplified TV viewing experience through platforms such as the Xumo Stream Box. We are pleased to partner with Disney to further this goal to the benefit of our mutual customers.”

As part of the earlier carriage deal, in the coming months Charter will also start including free access to Disney’s ESPN+ service in Spectrum TV Select Plus video packages. The arrangement also has benefits for Disney, which gets the opportunity to expand its ad-supported streaming base that helps drive advertising revenue and leverage Charter’s marketing capabilities alongside lower subscriber acquisition costs and the potential to reduce churn.

“Our goal has always been to meet consumers where they are, and these collective offerings will maximize value for Spectrum TV Select customers while simultaneously broadening the audience of our advertiser supported streaming services,” continued Connolly.

To activate their Disney+ Basic subscription, Spectrum TV Select customers can create an account for free. Those who already have Disney+ need to manage or cancel their existing subscription through the website or app it was purchased, as the complimentary subscription from Charter has to be managed separately.  

Across its services, Charter serves more than 32 million customers, including 14.1 million video customers.