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ESPN Decides It's Better to Be In Than Out With Penny Pinchers

  • Disney goes from wary to welcoming as skinny bundles catch on
  • Dish's $20 Sling could reach 2 million subscribers this year

Talk about a change of heart. When Walt Disney Co. agreed to put ESPN on Dish Network Corp.’s new Internet TV service in 2014, it wanted guarantees the business wouldn’t steal subscribers from other cable and satellite partners.

So the world’s largest entertainment company demanded terms that would let ESPN pull out of Dish’s $20-a-month Sling TV if the service grew too quickly or if too many regular cable customers dropped Disney’s popular sports network, according to people with knowledge of the matter.