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Disney Channels Including ABC and ESPN Pulled From YouTube TV Programming Grid Amid Carriage Battle

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(Image credit: Alphabet)

ESPN, ABC and about a dozen other Disney-owned programming networks disappeared from YouTube TV's programming grid at 12 a.m. EST, with Google and Disney apparently unable to reach agreement on a new program licensing deal. 

Numerous YouTube TV customers began tweeting early Saturday morning that ESPN's coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves pro basketball game suddenly went dark for them on their pay TV service. 

Google said earlier this week that it was in negotiations with Disney over a new program licensing deal for YouTube TV, and if one wasn't reached by the end of the week, Disney channels including ABC and a dozen cable networks, FX also included,  would go dark on the live-streaming service. 

Also read: Is the Disney-YouTube TV Battle the First in a New Kind of Distribution War, Or the Last in an Old One?

YouTube TV is an OTT service that bundles more than 70 broadcast and cable networks in a live-streamed bundle for $65 a month. It's the largest of the so-called virtual MVPDs (vMVPDs), with analysts speculating that the service has more than 4 million customers. 

Google said earlier this week that it would cut the price of YouTube TV by $15 a month [from from $64.99 to $49.99] if a new programming deal with Disney couldn't be worked out by the deadline.  That includes on promotional pricing.

"Members, we worked hard to avoid this but were unable to reach a fair deal with Disney," YouTube TV tweeted from its account to let consumers know of the move and the price break. "We regret to share that as of December 17, all Disney-owned channels are unavailable on YouTube TV. While Disney content remains off our platform, we’ll decrease our price by $15/month."

In an e-mail notice to customers early Saturday morning, YouTube TV said that in addition to live and local content from Disney networks and local ABC-owned  stations, they also lose access to any library recordings from Disney channels, including 4K content as part of its 4K Plus service. 

The affected channels/networks are: 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.■

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!