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December 26, 2018

ABC, ESPN could be dropped from Verizon FiOS service if sides can't agree on new contract

Verizon is warning its customers that it may have a Disney blackout

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Stock_Carroll - Verizon Wireless Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A Verizon Wireless store.

Verizon FiOS subscribers could lose out on Disney-owned networks like ABC and ESPN in 2019 if the two companies don't agreement to terms of new contract soon.

FiOS customers received notice on Wednesday that warned the contract between the two companies will expire on Dec. 31, and negotiations for a new contract are ongoing.

If no deal can be reached before the end of the year, Verizon Fios subscribers potetentially will lose the broadcasts of the ABC stations in Philadelphia and New York, ESPN, Freeform and kids' channels like The Disney Channel.

Disney has also started to air advertisements on those channels, warning customers of the potential blackout even though it remains "optimistic that we can reach a deal."

“Our proven history of providing extraordinary value to consumers and distributors is unmatched. Our negotiations continue in earnest and we remain optimistic that we can reach a deal,” Disney said in a statement.

In the email to subscribers, Verizon said Disney is proposing the company include the ESPN-owned Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Network in its 2019 carrier package. The email also said the company is "proposing Verizon pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for its programming, despite the fact that many of its key networks are experiencing declining viewership."

"We’ve given Disney a reasonable offer to continue providing you access to its networks," Verizon said in a statement on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, as of today, they have rejected our offers and there is a possibility that we won’t be able to reach an agreement with them prior to our contract expiration on December 31, 2018 at 5 p.m. EST."

This kind of negotiation drama is just the most recent. 

Dish and HBO are currently negotiating a contact and have left millions of Dish subscribers cut off from the network. Variety reported that since 2010, subscribers to cable companies have worked through more than 800 blackouts.

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