Consumer alert: The Disney/Charter deal has customer winners and losers — here’s why

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It’s a done deal. As we told you Monday, Disney and Charter, which owns Spectrum, inked a compromise that ended the blackout. But as always, the devil is in the details. While many analysists have concluded that ultimately, the consumer won this battle of the media titans, I’ve been studying those details and have concluded your feelings about this deal will largely be dictated by the kind of programming you value.

The fight between Disney and Charter concerned how much Charter has to pay Disney to carry its programming. But that’s not all. One major point of contention was Disney’s streaming services, like ESPN+ and Disney+. Disney wanted to charge cable customers for the streaming apps, but Charter argued that was essentially charging cable customers twice and wanted the apps thrown in with the cable package.

Here’s the compromise reached. Charter will pay a low wholesale price for access to the Disney+ app as well as ESPN+ plus. Then they’ll offer them for free to cable subscribers as part of your package. So you’ll get those streaming apps in addition to the following cable channels.

Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN news, ESPNU, FX, National Geographic, ACC Network, Longhorn Network, and SEC Network. This is a big win for sports fans.

But a viewer named Karen, who is not a sports fan, sent me an email that read, in part, “As a frequent watcher of Freeform and FXM movie channel, I am very disappointed that it appears I won’t have access to those channels even with Disney+. This whole deal was obviously sports centered with apparently little regard for the loyal legacy cable only customers. And yet again, here is something that leaves the “boomers” with little respect.”

You certainly can understand why Karen feels that way. The Disney bundle was trimmed from 27 channels to 19. The following channels were cut: Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo. But Variety is reporting that some Freeform and FXM programming will be available to stream on Disney+, which is disappointing for cable-only customers like Karen.

Cutting those channels trimmed $300 million from the big bill Charter pays Disney, and Charter argues it keeps costs down for consumers. But many of you who are not sports fans have asked for a cheaper package of Disney channels that doesn’t include ESPN and all its sports brethren. That’s not possible. The Disney package includes ESPN and 18 other channels, most of which carry sports content.

Non-sports fans can get a cheaper package without sports, but you won’t get Disney’s other channels. But I leave you with some good news. Charter sent customers an email promising a bill credit will be applied to your account within 48 hours. You don’t have to call customer service to get it. You need to check your account at the end of the week to make sure the credit has been applied.