Disney-Charter dispute leads to blackout at Florida-Utah Kickoff, ESPN viewers lose their minds

College football fans were ready to watch the showdown between Florida and Utah on Thursday night, but were met with an unfortunate surprise from Disney and Charter communications.

The ESPN studio show had wrapped up and they were sending it out to Utah for the kickoff between the Gators and Utes. There was only one problem though, both Disney and Charter, which owns Spectrum, had not reached an agreement on broadcast rights.

Landen King #14, Jaylon Glover #1, Munir McClain #4, Nate Johnson #13 of the Utah Utes lead the team onto the field before the start o their game agianst the Florida Gators at Rice Eccles Stadium August 31, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

As you can imagine, fans were livid, especially Florida fans, with Spectrum being one of the major broadcast companies for the state. Not only did the coverage not begin, but right when they were about to start the game broadcast, an unfortunate message popped up on viewer screens.


The New York Post reached out to Disney for a comment on the matter, with the network confirming both entities had not reached an agreement. The situation only got worse for Spectrum subscribers as they tried to get an explanation on the blackout.

Multiple users on social media mentioned that when they tried to speak with an agent over the phone, the customer service agents were clearly overwhelmed.

I decided to reach out to see what type of answer I could get from Spectrum, and was asked if I was calling about ESPN. Once I told the agent I was, they immediately told me there was nothing they could do about it, not offering any type of gift or discount.

JaTravis Broughton breaks up a pass

JaTravis Broughton #4 of the Utah Utes breaks up a pass intended for Ricky Pearsall #1 of the Florida Gators during the second half of their game at Rice Eccles Stadium August 31, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)


Spectrum has released a full statement on a website called DisneyESPNFairDeal.com, saying in-part ‘Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice’.

Long Weekend For Disney-Spectrum Users Hoping To Watch College Football

Not only was Thursday night a total loss, but fans hoping to watch college football this weekend are now praying that the two companies figure it out. Also, it’s not only football fans who are suffering, as the company also has FX, National Geographic, FreeForm and 23 other channels.

We’ve seen this happen numerous times in the past, with NextStar and DirectTv having a spat over television right fees. This was brutal for sports fans hoping to watch a game on local ABC or other channels.

Florida's Graham Mertz runs the ball

Karene Reid #21 of the Utah Utes chases Graham Mertz #15 of the Florida Gators during the fist half of their game at Rice Eccles Stadium August 31, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)


Disney had a pretty strong rebuttal for Charter’s statement, saying in part that ‘The rates and terms we are seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace’. Disney did say they were working on a mutual deal, but urged Charter to work with them to minimize the disruption.

We will see if the two sides can come to an agreement over the next 24 hours, with a massive weekend of football ahead. If not, YouTube TV might be the way to go for viewers hoping to sit on the couch all weekend.

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