Fioptics TV Update: ESPN / Disney

Cincinnati Bell — along with 700+ mid-sized and smaller cable operators — is part of a buying group currently in negotiations with ESPN/Disney to continue offering their cable networks, including the ESPN suite of channels, Disney suite of channels and others mentioned below. The contract under negotiation is slated to expire July 31, 2021. At this time, our buying group is working hard to complete a fair and reasonable agreement with ESPN/Disney because ultimately our costs for programming affect the monthly rate our customers pay for TV service.
ESPN/Disney is currently demanding new rates that are significantly higher largely as a result of the $2.7 billion dollars they spend annually on NFL rights. They are leveraging their position as the largest media company to justify these demands.

We feel the extremely high rate increases are unreasonable especially as ESPN/Disney have begun to reserve some high-value, original content for their streaming services such as Disney+ and ESPN+ at the expense of their traditional TV lineup. This strategy is an attempt by ESPN/Disney to maximize profits by charging customers twice – as a subscriber of their streaming services and as part of a traditional cable package – for the same content you used to receive in a single subscription.
Should our buying group and ESPN/Disney not come to an agreement prior to the contract end date of July 31, 2021 at 11:59pm EST, ESPN/Disney may force Cincinnati Bell to remove their channels from our lineup. Cincinnati Bell will continue to support our buying group while keeping our customer’s best interest in mind. We’ll provide you with updates on these ongoing negotiations as they become available.

Thank you for your patience as we work through these negotiations with ESPN/Disney.

ESPN / Disney Suite of Channels

Channel Name Fioptics HD Channel Fioptics SD Channel
ESPN 528 28
ESPN Classic N/A 213
ESPNews 530 30
ESPNU 600 200
ESPN 2 529 29
Disney Jr. 550 50
Disney Channel 549 49
Disney XD 682 282
Freeform 547 47
FX 537 37
FXX 524 24
FX Movie 630 230
National Geographic 543 43
Nat Geo Wild 681 281
SEC Network 604 204
ESPN Deportes N/A 707


Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the ESPN & Disney owned channels blacked out?

ESPN/Disney is demanding large rate increases and other terms that would greatly impact your monthly bill from Cincinnati Bell. We firmly believe that these rate increases are unjustified. We are working in conjunction with our buying group (NCTC) to minimize the large price increase ESPN/Disney is trying to impose.

Does this negotiation effect only Cincinnati Bell?

No, there are currently 700+ mid-sized and smaller cable operators that are a part of the same buying group (NCTC) that is currently in negotiations with ESPN/Disney channels. A blackout of the ESPN/Disney channels would affect all of the cable operators that are a part of the same buying group (NCTC).

What happens if the buying group and ESPN/Disney do not come to an agreement before Saturday July 31, 2021?

If the buying group and ESPN/Disney cannot come to an agreement and an extension is not granted, ESPN/Disney will pull the signals from our lineup on July 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

What should customers do if there is a blackout of the ESPN/Disney of channels?

We ask that customers continue to be patient with us as the negotiations continue between our buying group and ESPN/Disney. We’re hopeful a blackout will be temporary and the channels will return to our lineup as soon as a reasonable agreement is reached.

What happens if a customer has a recording scheduled on the channels during a blackout of any of the ESPN/Disney channels?

Recordings that were scheduled to take place during a blackout will appear in the DVR as the Static Screen for the full duration of the recording. Example, if there was a recording set for 6:00pm – 7:00pm, the full hour of the recording will play back as the Static Screen. Unfortunately, there is no way to recover a recording that should have taken place during the blackout of channels.

If a blackout occurs, how can customers continue to watch ESPN and Disney?

Both ESPN and Disney offer subscription-based streaming apps (ESPN+ and Disney+). ESPN+ offers pre-recorded and live broadcasts while Disney+ offers a large library of Disney content available to stream. These streaming apps are a point of contention in the negotiations as Disney has begun to reserve much of its original, high valued content for the Disney+ app at the expense of its cable TV channels, essentially forcing customers to pay extra for content that you used to receive as a cable TV customer.

What channels does this affect?

ESPN, ESPN Classic, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN2, Disney Jr., Disney Channel, Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, FX Movie, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, SEC Network and ESPN Deportes.

Is this permanent?

We believe this will be a temporary blackout and the channel feed will resume once an agreement is reached.