Disney, TWC deal to bring ESPN2 HD, other nets to subscribers

Time Warner Cable and The Walt Disney Company have entered into comprehensive multi-year distribution agreements that will extend retransmission consent for the ABC-owned broadcast television stations carried in Time Warner Cable systems, and provide for carriage of a broad array of Disney’s leading networks and services including: ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Pay-Per-View, SOAPnet, and Toon Disney.

In addition, Time Warner Cable will launch ESPN2 HD and ESPNU later this year, and certain systems will also offer Disney Channel on Demand subscription VOD and ESPN Deportes. Three new high-definition services from Disney and ESPN Media Networks–ABC Family HD, Disney Channel HD and ESPNEWS HD—will launch in Time Warner Cable systems when they become available in 2008.

The companies have also agreed to make available certain shows from some of the networks on Time Warner Cable’s Start Over platform. The Start Over functionality gives Time Warner Cable digital cable subscribers in some areas the ability to restart certain live programs, which are in progress, without any preplanning or in-home recording devices. Customers who have joined a Start Over-enabled program in progress are able to replay the program from the beginning, but cannot fast forward.

The Walt Disney Company will also provide content from certain networks to Time Warner Cable’s Quick Clips platform. The Quick Clips service provides a range of short-form content that is relevant to the underlying network shows. The clips are typically 2-10 minutes in length and are intended to provide additional video for a specific program, or real-time updates to a program in progress. Both the Start Over and Quick Clips features are available to Time Warner Cable’s digital cable subscribers at no additional charge.

Co-chairs of Disney Media Networks George Bodenheimer and Anne Sweeney commented on the announcement. Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, said, “This milestone agreement combines Disney’s world-renowned brands with Time Warner Cable’s outstanding distribution platforms throughout the country.” Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, added, “Together, The Walt Disney Company and Time Warner Cable will provide leading sports, family, news and entertainment content for a fantastic and diverse consumer experience.”

“This agreement will give our customers access to an even wider array of sports and high-definition programming,” said Glenn Britt, President and CEO of Time Warner Cable. “It will also allow us to expand our Start Over and Quick Clips services. Start Over has proven to be one of the most attractive advanced video features we’ve ever offered.”

Additional terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

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