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YouTube TV Removes Disney Channels After Carriage Negotiations Break Down

YouTube TV
(Image credit: Google)

YouTube TV dropped Disney-owned broadcast and cable channels at midnight on Saturday, Dec. 18 after the two companies failed to reach an agreement to continue to carry Disney's channels on Google's YouTube TV.

The companies warned subscribers earlier this week of a possible impasse and YouTube TV said if Disney was dropped, it would reduce its monthly subscription price $15 from $65 to $50 for its base plan until an agreement is reached. Even promotional plan customers would receive the $15 credit as well. 

The disagreement centered over a time-worn argument when it comes to carriage disputes: YouTube TV claimed that Disney said it deserved higher compensation to carry its channels than similar entertainment and sports channels. And while such disputes have been common in the traditional cable/satellite pay-TV market, this represents perhaps the biggest disagreement yet between a media giant and an increasingly popular virtual multichannel video programming distributor ('vMVPD").

YouTubeTV had had a similar disagreement with NBCUniversal earlier this fall but that was resolved before any channels were dropped. 

Saturday morning, YouTube TV customers received this notice in their email box:

"As of December 17, 2021, end of day Eastern Time, all Disney-owned channels, including ESPN and your local ABC station, are unavailable on YouTube TV. Members will not be able to watch live or local content from Disney and will also lose access to any previous Library recordings from these channels, including 4K content that is available as part of the 4K Plus add-on.

‌"We will be decreasing our monthly price by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99, for the Base Plan while this content remains off of our platform. No action is needed on your part...‌Should we come to an agreement with Disney, we will adjust the price accordingly and will notify members via email beforehand... We know this is frustrating news, and it is not the outcome we wanted. We will continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV."

In a statement to Variety, Disney said that “We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Google’s YouTube TV and unfortunately, they have declined to reach a fair deal with us based on market terms and conditions... 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.” 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Technology (www.tvtechnology.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.