Shortly before the deadline, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Google’s YouTube TV said they agreed to an extension while they continue to negotiate a deal that would keep NBCU’s stations and networks available to YouTube TV’s streaming customers.
“NBCUniversal and YouTube TV have agreed to a short extension while parties continue talks. NBCUniversal will not go dark on YouTube TV at midnight eastern tonight,” an NBCU spokesman said.
Unlike cable or satellite, if it cannot reach a deal with NBCU, YouTube TV will lose carriage of all NBC affiliates, not just those owned by NBCU.
It was unclear when the extension expires, but observers noted that NBCU's leverage is greatest before Sunday Night Football airs. This week's game features Tom Brady returning to New England to play the Patriots, one many fans will want to see.
Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal has another deadline at hand as its agreement to carry programming from The Walt Disney Co. is expiring.
On Sunday NBCU began warning viewers that if they subscribed to YouTube TV, they could lose access to NBCU programming. NBCU claimed Google was refusing to make a deal at fair rates.
YouTube TV countered saying that NBCU was unwilling to treat YouTube TV like other TV providers. That was interpreted as meaning that NBCU was refusing to grant YouTube TV the kind of most-favored nation clause common in cable distribution deals. The MFN means that if NBCU grants lower rates to another distributor, YouTube TV would be entitled to that rate as well.
YouTube TV said that in the event of a blackout it would cut its rate by $10 per month for as long as the NBCU channels were unavailable.
There were also reports that NBCU was insisting that YouTube TV carry Peacock, Comcast’s streaming services. Subsequent reports said that demand was withdrawn.
According to recent analyst reports, YouTube TV is the largest of the streaming virtual multichannel video distributors with more than 4 million subscribers nationwide.
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