Altice USA issued the following statement:
We are always working hard to negotiate carriage agreements that reflect the best interest of all our customers. We want to carry ESPN and its sister networks, including ABC and Disney, at a reasonable rate and have already offered an increase in retransmission fees and sports programming costs.
Yet, despite the fact that viewership of their programming by Optimum customers has been declining in the double digits for years, ESPN and its owner are demanding double the rates for ABC for the same content they offer today, exorbitant fee increases for ESPN, and are trying to force customers who don’t receive ESPN to have to pay for it.
Skyrocketing programming costs, particularly those charged by broadcasters and sports networks, are the greatest contributor to rising cable bills, and ESPN is already the most expensive basic cable channel in history. This behavior by ESPN is anti-consumer, and we urge ESPN and its owner to stop the threats, leave their programming on for customers and focus on negotiating an agreement that is fair for our Optimum customers.