Disney, Dish reach interim deal to restore channels for satellite, Sling TV subs

Following a channel blackout over the weekend, Disney-owned networks including ESPN, ABC and others have been restored for subscribers of Dish’s satellite TV and Sling TV virtual MVPD service after the companies reached a temporary “handshake” deal.

Dish abruptly dropped Disney-owned networks Saturday after the two were unable to agree on terms of a new carriage deal following months of negotiations. Dish claimed that Disney was seeking “nearly a billion dollars more” for the same channels, in part to subsidize its own streaming platforms such as Disney+ and ESPN+, while Disney asserted its terms and rates reflected the marketplace.

The companies are still working to finalize a new agreement.

Sunday evening Disney released the following statement:

“We have reached a handshake agreement with DISH/Sling TV, which properly reflects fair market value and terms for The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled content. As a result, we are pleased to restore our portfolio of networks on a temporary basis while both parties work to finalize a new deal.”

Fierce reached out to Dish for comment and will update with any new information.

Financial terms of the interim deal were not disclosed.

The channel blackout over the weekend came at a particularly inconvenient time as sports fans couldn’t watch college football games on ESPN Saturday, and faced the possibility of missing out on the NFL’s Monday Night Football if the dispute dragged on.

In trying to explain dropping the channels to customers, Dish on Saturday had noted it sells video packages that don’t include ESPN or ESPN 2 but Disney apparently wanted customers with those TV packages to pay for ESPN.

In addition to ESPN, Sling TV and Dish satellite customers couldn’t access local ABC stations in eight markets, FX, Disney Channel, Freeform and National Geographic, among others.

The dispute also comes as Dish Network has been losing pay TV subscribers – including 202,000 net satellite and 55,000 Sling TV customers in the second quarter.

YouTube TV faced its own carriage dispute with Disney last December that saw ESPN and other networks leave the service, but was eventually able to agree on new terms and channels were restored.