Due to the Yom Kippur holiday, which begins at sundown tonight and ends Saturday night, Altice and Disney have agreed to extend the expiration of their carriage contract through 5 PM ET Sunday, October 1, Deadline has confirmed.
Apart from that one agreement on timing, there are no signs of movement in a struggle that could leave 3.1 million subscribers to Altice’s Optimum cable service without access to ABC, ESPN and other Disney networks.
The positions each company has staked out are familiar ones in the annals of cable carriage fights. Altice complains that Disney is demanding unreasonable fee increases given the ratings slippage at ESPN; on its side, Disney has blasted Altice as a consumer-gouging operation, lining its own pockets and then crying poverty.
When reached by Deadline, neither updated the statements it issued earlier this week.
The standoff touches on many of the media world’s current hot buttons: cord-cutting, which has hit ESPN especially hard; the ballooning of sports-rights fees; and the re-bundling of networks as Internet-delivered skinny packages continue to scale. Against that backdrop, many on Wall Street expect a battle to the wire. Should the Disney networks go dark, customers in the No. 1 U.S. market — New York — could be without such mainstays as ESPN’s Monday Night Football or ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, which airs Mondays.
Ads articulating each company’s stance have been ubiquitous across Optimum channels through the week. Anyone tuning in to ESPN’s popular college football telecasts on Saturday is sure to encounter the messages.
On a mixed day for stocks, both Disney and Altice shares posted modest gains. Altice closed at $27.33, up a bit more than 1%, and Disney ended the session at $98.58, up half a percentage point.