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Disney, Verizon reach deal, avoid New Year’s Eve blackout

Megan Guza
| Sunday, December 30, 2018 2:00 p.m
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Verizon and Disney reached a deal Sunday, heading off a blackout of Disney’s channels on Fios that would have left customers without ESPN and access to many New Year’s Day college bowl games.

“Verizon and The Walt Disney Company have reached a broad-based distribution agreement. Details will be released in the coming days,” the companies said in a joint statement, according to USA Today.

The contract between the network and the provider was set to expire at 5 p.m. Monday, leaving customers without ESPN and, in some areas, ABC.

Initial fears that Penn State’s Citrus Bowl matchup against Kentucky on ABC would be affected were quelled when a Verizon spokeswoman said the blackout would not disrupt local ABC affiliate WTAE-TV.

Verizon alleged last week that Disney wanted the provider to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for its programming – despite the fact that many of its key networks have experienced declining viewership.

Disney countered with its own statement: “Our proven history of providing extraordinary value to consumers and distributors is unmatched,” saying executives were “optimistic” about reaching a deal.

Verizon’s Fios reached about 4.6 million subscribers at the end of 2017, according to Variety. In the third quarter of this year, Verizon said it lost 63,000 video subscriptions, “impacted by ongoing shifts away from linear video offerings,” but notched a “net add” of 54,000 Internet connections.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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