Amy Chozick and Brooks Barnes for the New York Times:
Comcast and Disney said Wednesday they had agreed to a 10-year deal that will allow the cable provider to distribute Disney content via television and streaming on iPads and other devices.
But it’s not exclusive in any way. So Disney (which owns ABC and ESPN) can still allow other content distributors, like other cables companies or Apple or Google, to distribute Disney/ABC/ESPN content as well.
Comcast customers will have access to ESPN sports on multiple devices. That network earns more money from cable and satellite companies than any other channel, about $4.69 a month, according to SNL Kagan. Combined with ESPN2 and ESPN Classic, the ESPN networks take in about $6.50 a subscriber each month.
So imagine Disney agrees to let Apple distribute those same ESPN networks to consumers, as an a la carte option, for $9.99 per month. If every content provider did this, I’d buy ESPN, FX, HBO and the basic networks. Let’s say the basic networks cost $4.99 each, the “premium” network groups like ESPN are $9.99 and the “exclusive” network groups like HBO are $14.99. My monthly TV bill would be around $60, compared to the $175 I pay today for it to be grouped with Internet service and a phone line.
The only question for me is how much the price of Internet-only service would go up. The only question for Disney is what percentage of cable subscribers would subscribe to ESPN as an a la carte choice. That’s likely where Apple’s negotiations are hitting some snags.