A heads up for Verizon FiOS customers: you could lose your favorite Disney-owned television channels soon.
Disney has begun airing ads to Verizon FiOS subscribers with an unfortunate warning: “don’t lose your shows.” Deadline reported on Wednesday that Disney is letting FiOS subscribers know that Disney-owned channels (including Disney Channel, Freeform, ESPN, and local ABC news stations in New York and Philadelphia) could go dark after January 1 if Disney and Verizon don’t reach an agreement. Traditionally, December 31 is an expiration date for major deals, and Disney isn’t staying quiet about their current disagreement with Verizon based on how much Verizon should pay as a television provider.
While these negotiations affect both companies involved, they’ll likely be met with outraged Verizon FiOS customers who currently rely on several Disney TV channels for entertainment. Parents and children may be upset when they find out that the popular family channels, Disney Channel and Freeform, will be pulled from their subscriptions, and sports fans will no longer have access to ESPN and all its associated channels. While Verizon and Disney have their own reasons for their inability to come to an agreement, it seems as though customers will be affected the most by the contract renewal (or lack thereof).
Just as Disney is advertising to FiOS customers urging them not to lose their channels, Verizon isn’t keeping their customers in the dark, either. Verizon sent an email to their FiOS customers letting them known of the company’s current dispute with The Walt Disney Company. The email read that Disney is “currently proposing that Verizon pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for its programming, despite the fact that many of its key networks are experiencing declining viewership.”
And Disney is speaking up, too. The Walt Disney Company sent a statement to Deadline, which read, “Our proven history of providing extraordinary value to consumers and distributors is unmatched. Our negotiations continue in earnest and we remain optimistic that we can reach a deal.“
It doesn’t seem as though Disney is afraid of losing Verizon as a customer, either. The Walt Disney Company already launched their ESPN+ streaming service earlier this year, giving sports fans the opportunity to gain online access to their favorite ESPN programming. And with the company’s plans to launch their Disney+ streaming service in late 2019, it’s likely that those who currently subscribe to Verizon and other providers won’t feel the need to pay for cable or related services in the future.
Still, this dispute affects the approximate 4.5 million Verizon FiOS customers who currently subscribe to the television provider and receive access to Disney-owned television channels. And because so many customers are affected by the deal, Verizon isn’t letting Disney off the hook. Verizon shared in their email to customers, “The rising cost of programming is the biggest factor in higher TV bills and we are standing up to networks like Disney, refusing to accept these huge increases.” According to Deadline, Verizon stated that Disney has rejected all of their offers and they may not be able to reach an agreement before the company’s contract expires with Disney on December 31.
Despite what you may be hearing from Disney, we have been negotiating a renewal agreement to keep their networks, which include those from Disney and ESPN, as well as ABC affiliates in Philadelphia and New York, in our lineup. You can read more here: https://t.co/ajwGMuJuto ^VCT
— Verizon Support (@VerizonSupport) December 26, 2018
If an agreement isn’t reached by the end of this year, many suspect that Verizon will lose millions of their customers due to a lack of access to Disney-owned networks. In their email to Deadline, Disney even cited a survey that predicts two-thirds of Verizon customers will cancel the service if the company fails to renew their contract with Disney. Whether or not this is true, only time will tell.