Dish Network and its streaming service Sling TV shut down all Walt Disney channels earlier this morning, including the ESPN series of outlets, the latest promotion dispute affecting sports fans.
Dish and Sling combined have more than 10 million subscribers who will now not be able to access college football games and Monday Night Football on ESPN for at least the next few days, among other programs. What makes this particular standoff between a content provider and a distributor notable is that it may mark the first time that the trend of moving material from cable to a streaming service like ESPN+ and Disney+ has been cited as one of the reasons .
“A recent quote from their CEO (Bob Chapek) sums it all up,” Dish group president Brian Neylon said in a recorded message on the satellite service’s website. “Their linear networks like ESPN, ABC and Freeform are ‘huge cash generators for Disney’ — but Disney+, their streaming service, is not. Look, we know a lot of people subscribe to and enjoy Disney+. We just don’t think it’s fair that Disney is asking us and you to pay significantly higher fees to subsidize their unprofitable streaming service.”
Disney reported losses of over $1 billion from streaming services ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu last quarter.