Television

Comcast inks distribution deal with Walt Disney; acquires E! Networks

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MUMBAI: Comcast Corporation and The Walt Disney Company announced that they have entered into long-term comprehensive distribution agreements that will extend their relationship into the next decade for the 10 ABC-owned broadcast television stations and an array of Disney's networks and services including: Disney Channel, ABC Family, Toon Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN HD and increased carriage of SOAPnet.

Comcast will also launch ESPN Deportes, a stand-alone Spanish-language sports network, and the companies formalised their ESPN2 HD agreement.

In addition, Comcast has acquired The Walt Disney Company's 39.5 per cent ownership stake in E! Networks. Following this acquisition, E! Networks, which includes E! Entertainment Television and Style Network, is now wholly owned by Comcast. The purchase price for the 39.5 per cent stake was $1.23 billion, states an official release.

The companies have also agreed to add primetime television programs, cable network shows and Disney movies to Comcast's signature On Demand service. Marking the first time ABC broadcast programs will be available on video on demand (VOD) by any cable company, several ABC primetime series will be offered free by Comcast in ABC-owned television station markets. The companies also said they will work together to make promotional content from the Disney-ABC Television Group available on Comcast's broadband portal, www.comcast.net, adds the release.

"This agreement reflects our ability to distribute content on multiple platforms and signals another first for Comcast and Disney as we continue to explore the evolving possibilities of digital technology. We could not have gotten this deal done without Bob Iger's leadership and vision. Putting Disney, ESPN and ABC's extremely popular content on Comcast VOD is a watershed event for both of our companies," said Comcast chairman and chief executive officer Brian Roberts.

"This is the first cable on-demand agreement for hit ABC primetime broadcast programs like Desperate Housewives and Lost and, when combined with Disney movies and other ABC/Disney/ESPN television programs, gives Comcast access to the most Disney content available."

The Walt Disney Company president and chief executive officer Robert A. Iger commented, "This is one of the broadest distribution agreements in the history of our company. Disney's great brands and great content combined with Comcast's leading distribution platforms provide an incredibly compelling consumer experience in sports, family, news and entertainment. We look forward to working with Brian and Steve Burke on a range of future projects as technology continues to evolve."

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