Comcast Will No Longer Block Customers From Watching ESPN On Their iPads

Watch ESPN app

Photo: ESPN

Comcast and Disney announced a new 10 year deal today that will let content from Disney and its subsidiaries — including ABC and ESPN — continue to flow to Comcast customers.As part of the deal, Comcast customers will now be able to use the WatchESPN app to watch live sports on ESPN on their iPads and iPhones.

Disney released that app during the summer, as Peter Kafka at AllThingsD pointed out today, but Comcast customers weren’t able to use it because the companies hadn’t worked out the rights.

Stepping back a second, this shows exactly why it’ll be so hard for would-be TV disruptors from the tech industry, like Google or Apple, to bypass Comcast and other cable companies.

More than 30 million customers are already paying Comcast. They don’t want to pay a separate bill to get the same TV shows on their iPad.

Comcast already has big long-term deals with all the big content distributors (it signed a 10-year deal with CBS last year, for instance). The content companies need these deals to keep reaching Comcast’s existing customers. They also trust Comcast to collect the money from their customers, distribute it fairly, and keep freeloaders off the channels they haven’t paid for.

It’s a lot easier for Comcast to extend this userbase and relationships to new media than it is for tech companies to suddenly become media companies.

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