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YouTube TV loses ESPN, other Disney networks after failing to reach new deal


YouTube TV has failed to reach an eleventh-hour deal with Disney to keep more than a dozen Disney-owned channels on the live TV streaming service. As of December 18th, popular networks including ESPN and ABC have been removed from the service. As promised, YouTube TV has dropped its subscription to $50 per month as a direct result of the lost programming.

Disney said in a statement late Friday that after ongoing negotiations with YouTube TV, “they have declined to reach a fair deal with us based on market terms and conditions.”

“As a result, their subscribers have lost access to our unrivaled portfolio of networks including live sports and news plus kids, family and general entertainment programming from ABC, the ESPN networks, the Disney channels, Freeform, the FX networks and the National Geographic channels,” the company added. “We stand ready to reach an equitable agreement with Google as quickly as possible in order to minimize the inconvenience to YouTube TV viewers by restoring our networks. We hope Google will join us in that effort.”

In a blog post, YouTube TV said it would “continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV.”

“We’ve held good faith negotiations with Disney for several months,” YouTube TV said. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an equitable agreement before our existing one expired, and their channels are no longer available on YouTube TV.”

The announcement follows a notice shared with subscribers earlier this week that the channels could vanish from YouTube TV on Friday, December 17th if a deal was not reached between the two companies. Should negotiations have failed, YouTube TV said it would lower its price by $15 a month from its normal price of $65 per month to compensate for the change.

Earlier this week, a positive resolution to the service loss seemed likely. For one, the service told subscribers in an email on Monday that the House of Mouse “is an important partner for us,” adding that it hoped to negotiate a deal with Disney “provided we can reach equitable terms.” But the companies failed to reach a deal as their current agreement lapsed after December 17th.

The loss of over a dozen channels doesn’t exactly help YouTube TV remain competitive against other internet cable services like Hulu with Live TV or Fubo TV. Not only are a dozen-plus channels getting wiped from service, but the list of Disney-owned properties that would be axed is extensive, including not only Disney channels but FX, ESPN, and National Geographic channels as well.

The full list of channels that left because a deal was not reached include the following:

  • Your local ABC channel
  • ABC News Live
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
  • Disney XD
  • Freeform
  • FX
  • FXX
  • FXM
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Wild
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3 (by authentication to the ESPN app)
  • ESPNU
  • ESPNEWS
  • SEC Network
  • ACC Network

Carriage disputes are frustratingly common in our new streaming landscape, and they often play out publicly before a resolution is reached — as was the case recently with YouTube TV and NBCUniversal-owned channels. Less frequently, two parties fail to reach a deal, and it’s the consumer who winds up paying the price by having to shop around for a new provider if they want support for their favorite programming.



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