BRISTOL, CT AND ST. LOUIS — ESPN, Inc. and Charter Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq:CHTR) today announced long-term distribution agreements for multiple ESPN networks and services, including the continued distribution of ESPN and ESPN2 on expanded basic cable, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, and the launch of ESPN Broadband, ESPN Deportes and ESPN HD.
“Charter has a history of bringing its customers innovative programming and services to drive both viewer satisfaction and new revenue in its markets,” said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports. “These agreements underscore the long-term value of ESPN and ESPN2 to our affiliates as part of their expanded basic cable lineup. They also are consistent with ESPN’s strategic plan, begun more than a year ago, to offer moderating rate adjustments, built on the solid rate base already established, in exchange for long-term commitments and the distribution of new growth networks and products.”
“This agreement provides a long-term price-value relationship that is good for our customers and shareholders alike. They were negotiated well in advance of our current expiration date and as a result of this early completion, we expect to enjoy meaningful financial benefits in the latter portion of 2004,” said Carl Vogel, Charter President and CEO.
“We are very pleased to have negotiated agreements that not only provide long-term benefits to both parties but are also great for our fans,” said Sean Bratches, executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing for ESPN. “In addition to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN Classic, Charter customers can now receive ESPN HD, which offers high-definition television’s most compelling content, sports, and ESPN Deportes, a new Spanish-language sports network with the same level of excellence as ESPN.”
“The comprehensive elements of this agreement will allow our customers to enjoy the full complement of ESPN programming. The addition of ESPN HD and ESPN Deportes will add significant value to our channel lineups in today’s highly competitive environment,” said Sue Hamilton, Charter Senior Vice President of Programming.
Additional terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
In January, ESPN ranked number one in perceived value by cable operators for the fourth consecutive year in Beta Research Corp.’s independent annual survey. In December, ESPN was also ranked as the number one favorite network among all major cable network viewers and number one in perceived value in a Beta study.
ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 40 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Now, ESPN Today), ESPN HD, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, SportsTicker, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN Broadband, ESPN Wireless, ESPN Video-on-Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
Charter Communications®, A Wired World Company, is the nation’s third-largest broadband communications company. Charter provides a full range of advanced broadband services to the home, including cable television on an advanced digital video programming platform via Charter Digital Cable® brand and high-speed Internet access marketed under the Charter Pipeline brand. Commercial high-speed data, video and Internet solutions are provided under the Charter Business Networks® brand. Advertising sales and production services are sold under the Charter Media® brand. More information about Charter can be found at www.charter.com.