NEW YORK—NBCUniversal is warning subscribers of YouTube TV that the NBCU networks and local NBC and Telemundo stations could be taken off the virtual MVPD if the two parties don’t reach an agreement in the next few days.
NBCU and YouTube TV have a carriage agreement that is set to expire on September 30.
The impasse highlights the increasingly contentious negotiations between virtual MVPDs like YouTube TV and programmers like NBCU. Virtual MVPDs need to offer a wide variety of channels but have found it difficult to build profitable businesses unless they raise prices. Price hikes have, however, slowed their growth in recent years.
“NBCUniversal is seeking fair rates from Google for YouTube TV’s continued carriage of the only portfolio offering entertainment, Hispanic, news and sports networks,” NBCU said in a statement about the dispute. “Unfortunately, Google is refusing to make a deal at these fair rates and is willing to withhold entertainment, news and sports programming from their paying customers. NBCUniversal feels a responsibility to inform our fans that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows if Google continues with their demands.”
In response YouTube TV explained that “our ask is that NBCU treats YouTube TV like any other TV provider. In other words, for the duration of our agreement, YouTube TV seeks the same rates that services of a similar size get from NBCU so we can continue offering YouTube TV to members at a competitive and fair price.”
If, however, they are unable to reach an agreement, YouTube noted that “the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform).”
The virtual MVPD also noted that subscribers can “sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock, which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football.”
“NBCU is an important partner for us and as you can imagine, this is not the outcome that we want,” YouTube said in the blog post. “We’re still in active conversations with NBCU and are hopeful we can get past this impasse to keep their content available on YouTube TV.”
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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