Disney Panics, Gives Out Free ESPN Subscriptions

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Mickey Mouse looking scared

Credit: Disney

A recent huge blunder has resulted in the Walt Disney Company hastily giving out free access and subscriptions to ESPN, but only for certain very special people.

On September 1, millions of cable users around the country were shocked to find themselves unable to access channels owned by Disney, including ABC, FX, National Geographic, and, very importantly, ESPN.

Credit: Disney

This happened because Disney failed to come to satisfactory contract negotiations with Spectrum, one of the most powerful cable companies in the United States. As a result, Spectrum (itself a trade name of the massive Charter Communications) abruptly dropped all Disney bundle channels.

Related: Surprise Disney Layoffs Continue, Dozens Let Go as Major Blow to Studio

Naturally, this led to widespread outrage, with some people blaming Disney, some Spectrum, and many upset with both and demanding refunds. 

Spectrum Charter logo
Credit: Charter Communications

While Disney has not backed down from its detente with Spectrum Chart, it seems the House of Mouse realizes it is extremely bad optics not to let professional athletes watch their own sport.

Disney, ESPN, and the US Open

In a recent press conference, US Open Tennis Championship winner Daniil Medvedev revealed that he was unable to watch matches from the competition he was currently in, as many hotels are customers of Spectrum Charter.

The tennis champion said, “I don’t know if it’s legal or illegal, but I have to find a way because I cannot watch [the matches] on TV…I got internet – how do you call it? – pirate websites, I watch tennis there. I have no other choice.”

As you might expect, the US Open airs on the Disney bundle channel ESPN.

Disney Freebies

According to the Financial Times, Disney is providing free ESPN access to US Open players as well as subscriptions to other important sports figures like John McEnroe.

It would be a very bad look for Disney not to provide ESPN to the actual people playing in a massive sports event because it could not come to terms with a financial partner. However, this does raise the question of why only these VIPs get special treatment from Disney and not the millions of Spectrum Charter customers who just lost ESPN access.

Related: Disney Fires ESPN Senior Executive After Harassment Allegations Surface

Monday Night Football logo
Credit: ESPN

It does not help that the National Football League season is kicking off today, meaning that millions of sports fans will not be able to watch. Once the mega-popular Monday Night Football rolls around, viewers are only going to get more irate.

Disney’s response to customers upset with the collapse of negotiations with Spectrum has been essentially to tell them they can sign up for a paid streaming service. However, for customers who are already paying for a Disney bundle, this is unlikely to be a welcome option.

Particularly since Disney is showing it can offer free ESPN, but only if you’re famous enough.

What do you think should happen in the Disney-Spectrum standoff? Let us know in the comments below!

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