AT&T, DirecTV subscribers could soon lose ESPN, ABC, Freeform amid contract dispute

AT&T and DirecTV subscribers could soon lose channels from Disney including ABC and ESPN due to a contract dispute playing out against a looming deadline.

Disney has a contract with AT&T — which owns DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T Now — that’s due to expire soon, the company said in a statement sent to media outlets including The Hollywood Reporter. The mass media conglomerate, according to the statement, has “a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming.”

“However,” the company said, “we remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so.”

Disney ran the statement on ESPN during “Monday Night Football” this week, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Also, in a message to DirecTV subscribers, the company reportedly wrote “AT&T has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us, despite the fact that the terms we are seeking are in line with recent marketplace deals we have reached with other distributors.”

But AT&T wrote in a statement Disney has “put their viewers in the middle of negotiations by threatening to take away ESPN and other sports and entertainment channels, along with their ABC stations in eight cities.”

“We’re on the side of consumer choice and value, and we’re working to keep Disney channels in your TV lineup,” AT&T wrote in the statement on its website dedicated to TV news. “Thanks for your patience as we work through this.”

The dispute between the two giant corporations could impact TV viewers across the country.

The potential blackout would impact ABC, ESPN, Freeform and Disney Channel, Disney said in the statement. ESPN’s ACC Network and Longhorn network could also be impacted along with Disney-owned local stations, according to Deadline.

Although neither Disney nor AT&T have announced when the contract expires, Deadline reported it’s understood to be sometime in September.

In addition to the dispute with AT&T, Disney continues to negotiate with the Dish Network about a path forward for distribution of the FX and Nat Geo channels, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In early August, AT&T settled a contract dispute with CBS after a deadline to re-establish the contract came and went. The stalemate had led to a blackout of CBS channels in local AT&T and DirecTV packages, but with the agreement, the channels returned.

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