Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

ESPN, other Disney channels are back on Sling TV after contract dispute

Update October 3: A weekend away was all it took for Disney and Sling TV to come to an agreement that restored the channels owned by the former on the streaming service owned by the latter.

“All of your Disney & ESPN channels have been restored,” Sling TV announced on its website. “We sincerely apologize for your interruption in programming. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

Related Videos

It’s a “handshake agreement,” according to a statement Disney gave to Deadline on Sunday evening. The deal “properly reflects fair market value and terms for The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled content.”

There’s still no word on which company might potentially have been acting unreasonably, though.

Original, from October 1:

If you’ve awakened this Saturday, the first of October, only to realize that you’ll be unable to watch a bunch of college football, your favorite Disney show, or a good handful of other channels on Sling TV, there’s a good reason for that. Sling TV’s contact with Disney has run out, and the two companies failed to reach an agreement in time for you to keep watching the things you’re paying to watch.

This isn’t unusual — we’ve seen it before with pretty much every streaming service, from YouTube TV to Hulu and, of course, Sling TV.

Sling TV on Apple TV.

As to where you should direct your ire? Sling says it’s Disney’s fault. “Our goal and priority is to reach an agreement with Disney that ensures you get the best possible value from Sling,” the company said on its “promise” page of its website. “We are working to bring your channels back as quickly as possible.” It went on to say that “We offered Disney a contract extension to keep working towards an agreement and avoid any interruption to your service. They refused this offer.”

This always comes down to money, but we have no idea whether Sling’s offer was reasonable, or of Disney’s ask was too high. But Sling did say that “Disney, like many other channel owners, use this contract renewal period to try and increase the amount of money companies pay for their programming. Disney hopes that by doing this, you will get upset and ultimately contact Sling to put pressure on us to accept their higher rates.”

On the flip side, Disney likely would say that Sling’s offer doesn’t meet the cost increases necessitated by the growing market across all sectors something something business something.

It’s a tired back-and-forth that ultimately affects subscribers more than anyone, and it will end in one of two ways: Either the companies come to terms and the channels return, or they don’t. Sling, for its part, didn’t say anything about whether its monthly fees will be prorated while the nearly three dozen channels are gone.

It’s just a question of who blinks first.

Here are all the channels that have gone dark on Sling TV:

  • ABC News Live
  • ACC Network
  • ACC Network Extra
  • BabyTV
  • BabyTV
  • BabyTV Arabic
  • BabyTV French
  • BabyTV Latino
  • BabyTV Mandarin
  • BabyTV Portuguese
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Jr
  • Disney XD
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPN Deportes
  • ESPN OnDemand
  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU
  • FX
  • FXM
  • FXX
  • Freeform
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Longhorn Network
  • Nat Geo
  • Nat Geo Mundo
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • Polish
  • SEC Network
  • SEC+

Sling TV is believed to be the third-largest live streaming service in the United States with about 2.2 million subscribers. It’s behind YouTube TV (more than 5 million subs) and Hulu With Live TV (4 million subs). Sling TV is available on every major streaming platform. Its claim to fame is its $35-a-month plans that have fewer channels that you might be used to, but that you augment with optional “Extras” to build out your service. It’s not quite a la carte streaming, but it’s as close as we can get.

Editors' Recommendations

YouTube TV price hike is a reminder that you have to do the math
Dark theme on YouTube TV.

The news that YouTube TV — the largest streaming provider of live TV in the U.S. with more than 5 million subscribers — is getting more expensive is neither welcome nor surprising. It's just the latest price increase among multi-platform video distributors, which is industry parlance for services like YTTV, Hulu With Live TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, and DirecTV Stream. And prices for four of those five providers are dangerously close to what you'd pay for traditional cable.

But in a slightly strange turn of events, the monthly bill for some YouTube TV subscribers — myself included — actually will go down slightly starting in April, when the new rates take effect.

Read more
The best live TV streaming services: Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and more
best streaming TV service

If you're thinking of cutting the cable cord, it's never been a better time, and networking and streaming giants are falling all over themselves to provide the best alternatives for live TV streaming. From Hulu with Live TV to Sling TV to YouTube TV, there are a number of ways to watch televised events live or catch up on your favorite network shows without paying for cable.

Each of these services has its own price tag and list of special features to stand out from one another. However, differentiating between them as a consumer can feel overwhelming. We’ve done our best to simplify the shopping process for you and explain the best live TV streaming services available today.

Read more
YouTube TV: plans, pricing, channels, how to cancel, and more
The YouTube TV on a Roku TV.

When you think of streaming video, you think YouTube. And so YouTube TV — Google's live TV streaming service — very much just makes sense for a lot of people. Designed for those who want to cut the cord and ditch their cable or satellite subscriptions (and known in the industry as a multichannel video programming distributor, or MPVD), YouTube TV competes in the same arena as other streaming television services like DirecTV Stream (formerly known as AT&T TV Now and DirecTV Now), Sling TV, FuboTV, and Hulu With Live TV.

And YouTube TV offers a unique mix of features that make it very appealing, so much so that it's now the No. 1 service in the U.S. in terms of the number of paid subscribers, with some 5 million subscribers as of June 2022 — up some 2 million from the last time the service gave an update in October 2020. The popularity is due to several factors. YouTube TV is easy to use. It's got a selection of channels that's competitive with all its rivals. And the YouTube TV price is competitive, too. You're able to watch YouTube TV on pretty much any modern device. And the fact that parent company Alphabet (aka Google) has been marketing the heck out of it the past few years certainly hasn't hurt, either.

Read more