Customers of Altice USA’s Optimum service in Westchester and Fairfield Counties may lose ABC, ESPN and other Disney-owned channels as early as Oct. 1, if a percolating dispute between the cable television provider and the entertainment industry giant is not resolved.According to a USA Today report, contract renewal negotiations between the companies has hit a snag over rate charges. A main stumbling block has been ESPN, which has seen double-digit declines in viewership among Optimum subscribers. But it remains the most expensive cable channel, costing Altice more than $7 per monthly subscriber. Disney has also been trying to get Altice to carry two more of its sports channels, the ACC Network and the SEC Network, but the cable provider has balked at the proposal.
The companies have berated each other via press statements, with Altice insisting Disney is demanding “exorbitant” fee hikes for continued ESPN coverage while trying to “double the rates for ABC.” Disney, in turn, accused Altice of overcharging its viewers, claiming that the “typical Optimum customer pays $160 or more each month for service to Altice, and the bulk of that money goes into their pocket.”